rapid testing GeneMe LAMP machine

A rapid testing GeneMe LAMP machine, which will be used to offer the one-hour tests to outbound flyers.

London Heathrow Airport Now Offering COVID-19 Tests for Outbound Flyers

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As another measure to reduce the international spread of COVID-19, London Heathrow Airport is now offering rapid testing for passengers departing from the terminal. The first group to get testing are those departing for Hong Kong, where inbound travelers must provide a negative test result.

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) continues to offer COVID-19 test options for flyers as a measure to reduce the spread of the virus while encouraging continued travel through the terminals. Now, the airport will offer rapid tests for those who are leaving the country. Airline service providers Collison and Swissport announced they will offer rapid COVID-19 tests to outbound flyers, starting with those traveling to Hong Kong.

Testing in Conjunction with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific

The testing operation is setup with partnership from British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic. The rapid “LAMP” tests will cost travelers around $103.50 (£80 GBP), and are intended to provide results in around one hour. The more common PCR tests, which are currently being offered domestically by American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines, can take up to 24 hours to process.

“[Testing] is a key part of the solution for getting travel moving again,” David Evans, joint CEO of Collison, told Reuters. “There’s a lot of support to make sure that we can get these things up and running, and moving quickly.”

A rapid testing GeneMe LAMP machine, which will be used to offer the one-hour tests to outbound flyers. Image courtesy: Heathrow Airports Limited

Their trial is starting with flights to Hong Kong, as the nation currently requires all inbound travelers to provide proof of a negative test result prior to arrival. Collison and Swissport’s ultimate goal are to offer more options, including antigen tests, to help flyers circumvent international quarantine requirements.

“The outbound testing facilities announced today once again mark Collinson, Swissport and Heathrow as pioneers in driving travel recovery,” the group said in a press release. “Ensuring passengers can take to the skies safely, and in line with worldwide government guidelines.”

Despite Proof of Concept, Britain Still Requires All Inbound Travelers to Quarantine

This latest testing plan expands on a proof of concept all three parties launched earlier this summer, with the intention of easing quarantine requirements for inbound flyers. The group launched an arrival testing facility at Heathrow capable of handling appointments for rapid COVID-19 tests, but the government still has not certified it for use, nor allowed any travelers to bypass their 14-day quarantine requirement by negative testing.

The frustration is not only growing among lawmakers, but airlines as well. In his first public address, the new chief executive of British Airways called upon the government to end the quarantine requirements, in favor of traveler testing.

Feature image courtesy: Heathrow Airports Limited

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