Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is the first UK airline to introduce Covid-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots.
Launched on September 30 2020 on flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong, the airline plans to extend the trial to Barbados and select services later in October, before a wider rollout to test every operating crew at least once per month.
In partnership with GeneMe UK, the airline trial is offering crew and pilots a rapid Point of Care Covid-19 RT LAMP test. Through integration with the digital ID platform Yoti, the test process is fast, secure, paperless and does not require a lab. After a swab is taken on site, results are processed and delivered on the Yoti app within 30 minutes.
“The introduction of onsite pre-flight Covid-19 testing for our crew and pilots ensures we remain at the forefront of the aviation industry’s safe return to the skies,” said Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer, Virgin Atlantic.
“This trial is a first step in our phased plan to introduce regular testing for all of our teams in the air and on the ground, in order to instil confidence in flying.
“However, we continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime. We need urgent action from UK and US governments to introduce pre- departure testing, to remove the need for quarantine and to minimise travel restrictions, while protecting public health and half a million UK jobs associated with the sector.
“As long as the UK’s 14-day quarantine is in place, demand for travel will not return and the UK’s economic recovery, which relies on free flowing trade and tourism, cannot take off.”