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Wed 18 November 2020

American Airlines and British Airways Trial Multi-COVID19 Testing for Travellers

American Airlines and British Airways have launched an optional COVID19 testing trial on select flights from cities in the United States to London Heathrow (LHR).

The free tests will initially be offered to eligible customers booked on American Airlines Flight AA50 departing Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to LHR; British Airways Flight BA114 departing New Yorks John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to LHR; and British Airways Flight BA268 from Los Angeles (LAX) to LHR, beginning 25 November.

The test will be expanded to American Airlines Flight AA106 from JFK to LHR, though the launch date has yet to be confirmed.

Eligible customers booked on flights that are part of the trial will be contacted by American Airlines and British Airways with instructions on how to volunteer. Each customer participating in the trial will take three tests in conjunction with the journey. If a customer tests positive, they should reschedule or cancel their travel.

British Airways Boeing 787-9 reg: G-ZBKP. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

The first test, to be taken 72 hours before departure from the U.S., is an at-home RT-PCR test provided by LetsGetChecked. Customers will self-collect a nasal sample, under the supervision of medical professionals via a virtual visit.

After landing at LHR, participating customers will proceed to their second test at the airport. The LAMP test, provided by Collinson, involves the collection of a nasal sample by a medical professional. After the test is completed, a test kit for the third test will be provided to the customer. The third test kit offers an at-home testing option through the self-collection of a saliva sample which is taken three days after arrival in to the United Kingdom.

The three-test approach aims to validate a customers negative status for COVID-19 throughout the travel journey and will provide insight into the most effective and practical testing interval. The third test is intended to further confirm the results of the first two tests, to demonstrate that one or two tests will be sufficient to allow travel to safely restart.

The joint trial will offer free tests to passengers who choose to participate in the programme.

A task force comprising oneworld member airline representatives and independent medical experts are overseeing the implementation of the trial. The task force will share aggregated results with the U.S. and UK Governments and other stakeholders to demonstrate the essential role that COVID19 testing programmes can play in safely restarting travel.

Trade between the UK and U.S. totals more than $262 billion a year, which airlines are critical to facilitating. Prior to the COVID19 pandemic, together American Airlines and British Airways flew to more than 30 destinations in the U.S. from London. Today, the carriers are flying a fraction of that figure. Previously, the carriers operated up to 111 flights a week from London to New York; now they operate about 14 flights per week combined between the two cities.

Based on current UK Government policies, international travelers arriving in the UK from the U.S. are required to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have tested negative for COVID19. The tests being used as part of the trial will not impact UK National Health Service testing capacity.

Chairman and Chief Executive of American Airlines, Doug Parker, said, American has already successfully introduced a pre-flight COVID-19 testing programme for customers travelling from the U.S. to international destinations across the Caribbean and Latin America. We have received tremendous feedback from our customers in response to testing, as it provides peace of mind for safe and enjoyable travel. The UK is a critically important business and leisure destination that our customers want to visit. We believe the results provided by this trial will be vital for reopening transatlantic travel safely.

Chief Executive of British Airways Sean Doyle said, We know people want to travel but our skies remain all but closed and the UK is being left behind. Major economies like Germany are adopting testing to replace quarantine. We need the UK Government to introduce a system that allows travelers to take reliable, affordable tests before departure, so they are confident that fellow passengers are COVID-free. For people arriving from countries with high infection rates, a further test on arrival should then release them from quarantine. We are confident this approach would open routes, stimulate economies and get people traveling with confidence. The UKs economic recovery depends on the swift reopening of its skies. 

See latest Travel News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, American Airlines, British Airways, London Heathrow.

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