Covid tests on passengers at Heathrow could start next month, says airport boss

THE government could allow Covid tests to be up and running at Heathrow Airport next month 

According to the airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye, the Prime Minister is hoping for testing trials on passengers to start by mid-October.

The airport boss is hoping that the tests, which cost £150 for each passenger, will allow a huge increase in the number of travellers able to fly on holiday next summer. 

Mr Holland-Kaye told Travel Weekly: “We can start testing at some scale in the next few months. I would love to have a New York-London pilot up and running by Thanksgiving [November 26]. That seems entirely feasible.

“If we get good results, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to extend it. It’s possible that in the first or second quarter of next year, we see ‘rapid point of care’ tests become more normal.”

He warned that demand would be likely to outstrip supply for the time being. 

He said: “The demand for these will be enormous. It might take much longer before there is sufficient supply to satisfy the needs of all travellers.”

According to Mr Holland-Kaye, the government wants more than just one test for travellers on arrival, as it won't catch those who have just contracted the virus. 

So Heathrow is looking at other options, including a test on arrival at the airport followed by a second test seven days later, or a scheme where passengers are also tested before they board the plane to London. 

Heathrow has had an airside Covid-19 testing centre in Terminal Two ready to swab passengers from last month. 

Aviation services company Collinson and logistics firm Swissport said more than 13,000 Covid-19 tests will be available to passengers each day, with results "within hours".

The new facility has been set up by Collinson and Swissport in Terminal 2 at the west London airport.

Nurses will oversee tests at the new facility, with swabs transported by Swissport staff to a Collinson lab near Heathrow.

The tests will be transported using the same protocols as the NHS uses for home swab testing, the companies said.

Airlines, airports, and travel industry bosses have argued that testing travellers is the only way to open up movement to and from "high-risk" countries.

It'll also squash the uncertainty and short notice of travel bans and 14-day quarantines that have been imposed on Brits and end uncertainty for holidaymakers visiting destinations such as France and Spain.

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