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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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1040 Abroad

UK Airports Ready to offer Covid-19 Testing

Heathrow is ready to introduce coronavirus testing for passengers, as another industry body calls for testing as a way to end quarantine

Published on October 2, 2020

Heathrow Airport Temperature Checks at Heathrow Airport. Photo © Heathrow Airport

International travel could begin to re-open, as airports and airlines prepare to offer more testing for passengers, and another industry body has added its voice to calls for testing to replace quarantine rules.

IATA, the International Air Transportation Association, have issued a statement calling for quarantine alternatives, particularly in the US. In the statement, IATA say that they have a "strong concern over the continued existence of arrival quarantine regimes imposed by state governments in the United States, including New York and Hawaii".

Peter Cerdá, IATA’s Regional Vice President for The Americas, added that "Mandatory arrival quarantines for air travelers have the same effect as outright border closures. There are better ways to protect citizens during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of implementing job-destroying arrival quarantines, states should be encouraging the federal government to work with other governments to implement pre-departure testing. This will keep people safe and address the vital need to jumpstart struggling local economies and protect jobs that rely on out-of-state and international visitors".

According to IATA, a recent survey found that "64% of US travelers surveyed agreed that quarantine is unnecessary if a person tests negative for COVID-19. Eighty percent were willing to take a pre-departure COVID test. And 56% believe that COVID-19 is sufficiently controlled in the US to open up to international visitors."

IATA's message echoes those issued in the UK by Airlines UK, in September, which highlighted the importance of opening a Transatlantic airbridge using testing as a protective measure.

According to reports, Heathrow Airport is set to begin testing trials in mid-October, with a potential opening of the London to New York route by the end of November. John Holland Kaye, Heathrow's CEO, has been on the record as supporting testing to re-open Transatlantic travel, saying recently that "We can start with flights to New York, a city where infection rates are now lower than here, and which is the UK’s most valuable route. PCR testing in private labs, both pre-flight and on arrival, would ensure that there is no risk of importing COVID and could pave the way to a Common International Standard for aviation testing."

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