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BA to launch voluntary COVID testing trial for arrivals from 3 US airports

BA to launch voluntary COVID testing trial for arrivals from 3 US airports

Old Nov 17, 20, 12:08 pm
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BA to launch voluntary COVID testing trial for arrivals from 3 US airports

Just got this press release:

American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld launch transatlantic COVID-19 testing trial

17 November 2020

Airlines, British Airwaysand oneworld® have launched an optional COVID-19 medical-based testing trial on selected flights from the United States (US) to London Heathrow (LHR), in a combined effort to scientifically demonstrate how COVID-19 testing can reopen international travel and remove the need for passengers to quarantine on arrival.

The free tests will initially be offered to eligible customers booked on American Airlines flight AA50 departing Dallas/ Fort Worth (DFW) to LHR; British Airways flight BA114 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy 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, with a launch date to be communicated.

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.

The first test, to be taken 72 hours before departure from the US, is a convenient 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 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 (UK).

The three-test approach aims to validate a customer’s 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.

A task force comprising oneworld member airline representatives and independent medical experts are overseeing the implementation of the trial. American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld will closely monitor customer participation. The task force will share aggregated results with the US and UK Governments and other stakeholders to demonstrate the essential role that COVID-19 testing programmes can play in safely restarting travel.

Trade between the UK and US totals more than £200 billion (US$ 262 billion) a year, which airlines are critical to facilitating. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, together American Airlines and British Airways flew to more than 30 destinations in the US 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 14* flights per week combined, between the two cities.

Based on current UK Government policies, international travellers arriving in the UK from the US are required to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have tested negative for COVID-19. The tests being used as part of the trial will not impact UK National Health Service testing capacity.

British Airways and American Airlines have worked with Heathrow on implementation of the trial in to Terminal 5, and as a result Heathrow is now exploring whether trials can be introduced on more routes between the airport and the US.

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 US 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 travellers 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 travelling with confidence. The UK’s economic recovery depends on the swift reopening of its skies.”

Chief Executive of oneworld Rob Gurney said: “We believe that COVID-19 testing will play an important role in safely restarting international travel. A comprehensive testing programme will provide governments the confidence to reduce or waive quarantine requirements and safely reopen their economies to international visitors, while further assuring customers that their health and well-being are protected.”


About the trials

The trial for each individual passenger will comprise:

· An initial at-home test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the US

· A second test will take place upon arrival at LHR

· A third test to be taken three days after arrival in the UK

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

The ultimate objective of this and other trials is to validate that a pre-departure test provides a high level of certainty of a passenger being COVID-19 negative, which are hoped to result in policies that further relax US and UK border restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine and entry into the US.
Tobias-UK and LHR FLYER like this.
the810 is online now  
Old Nov 17, 20, 12:11 pm
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Just saw this too

I was suggesting BA should do this back in April !

Great they are now on board and hope they make a success of this
allturnleft is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 12:32 pm
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#testingmustfly on Twitter
Scotflyer80 is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 12:35 pm
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This is excellent news. Finally, some positivity and progress towards opening up international travel.
Geordie405 is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 12:39 pm
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... and much like all of the passengers of the Covid-free United flight that arrived today, they’ll have to self isolate for 14 days until the governments on either side of the Atlantic change things.

It’s sad that, 9 months into the pandemic, we are still in this position.
13901 is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 12:47 pm
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Great news. I figured BA wouldn’t be far behind UA in their trials when it’s such an important route.

This is from the US, will this change once England has changed its lockdown policies? So people from LHR can travel to the US? Or is that solely dependent on US policy changing?
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Old Nov 17, 20, 1:03 pm
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Both sides, the UK & the USA haven't changed their policies yet.
This is only a trial for voluntary passengers.

Passengers who wouldn't like to take part of the trial could still board these flights without a test ( As far as I understand from post #1 )
In UA, United rebooked passengers for free to another flight if they wouldn't like to participate in their trial program.
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Old Nov 17, 20, 1:12 pm
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I have mentally accepted that a negative test will be part of all my travels over the next year - so happy if I can avoid the private testing fees and testing is offered by airlines.

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Old Nov 17, 20, 1:27 pm
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rockflyertalk is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 1:47 pm
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This is great news! TPG is reporting that the trial will run until "early December". Anyone got a more accurate date? Looking to fly LAX-LHR in the first two weeks of December.
lucelib is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 2:05 pm
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This is all I am seeing on the BBC...

rockflyertalk is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 2:42 pm
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I guess the obvious question is who in their right mind would want to go to the USA given the way the infection rate is going.

This may be a good move for low risk countries, but not where the rate is going into orbit (wonder what the confidence rate will be if you have all 3 tests?)
Agent69 is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 3:06 pm
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Originally Posted by rockflyertalk View Post
This is all I am seeing on the BBC...

BA are going to test "during and after travelling"...how does the during bit work, or will this be a pre-boarding LAMP test opposed to an onboard test?

msm2000uk is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 3:14 pm
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Whilst a good thing, this is ineffective as long as quarantine requirements remain in place. A British national who has been in the UK or Schengen area in the last 14 days also cannot enter the United States currently, so not going to stimulate demand this end.

This is one potential resolution, but governments regrettably seem disinterested.
Bohinjska Bistrica is offline  
Old Nov 17, 20, 3:43 pm
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Is a self-administered saliva test 72 hours after arrival going to be sufficient for the UK government to allow one to stop self-isolating early?

And, should this be rolled out properly once the free trial is over, how much will it cost the passenger?
GumshoeW12 is offline  

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