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Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic to Launch Rapid Pre-departure COVID-19 Testing

Virgin Atlantic customers travelling from Heathrow to Hong Kong now have the option of paying for a rapid COVID-19 swab test before checking in.

The £80 rapid COVID-19 test is carried out by a registered nurse through a nasal and throat swab that takes no longer than three minutes and accurate results are guaranteed within the hour. This procedure, called an Oxford LAMP test, doesn’t take away any resources from the NHS.  

The industry-leading testing facilities, launched by Collinson and Swissport, are a UK first, and are a critical step in the travel sector’s recovery, helping to restore traveller confidence and enable passengers to fly safe and well.

The testing facilities for Virgin Atlantic customers, located in Terminal 2, will initially offer passengers travelling to Hong Kong the option to fulfil the pre-departure testing requirements at the airport before they fly, with the option to book in advance or even on the day, provided it’s at least three hours before departure.

Hong Kong currently requires passengers to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure, but allow for testing technologies that can deliver fast results.

The Virgin Atlantic CEO, Shai Weiss, said: “The testing facilities established at Heathrow Airport by Collinson and Swissport are an excellent demonstration of the industry working together to offer rapid, on-site, pre-departure customer testing that allows passengers to fly safely and does not compete for, nor divert, vital gold standard NHS resources. We urgently need the introduction of a passenger testing regime here in the UK to safely replace quarantine. As long as the 14-day quarantine remains 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. Half a million UK jobs depend on open skies and a fully functioning UK aviation industry. The Government’s Global Travel Task Force must act swiftly to replace quarantine with passenger testing in November.”

The testing facilities will initially be open for four weeks, monitoring passenger and airline demand.

David Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson, said: “We launched ‘Test-on-Arrival’ to help get the travel ecosystem moving again and are now launching pre-departure testing to help support passengers departing the UK too.

“With countries around the world adding the UK to their list of ‘high risk’ countries, we need to find a way to work with governments, leading travel brands and other commercial entities to safely open up travel out of the UK. Government restrictions around the world will continue to fluctuate, but we, with our medical services and biotech partner network, have the capability to flex our offering to bespoke country needs, ensuring that, whatever the restriction, we can provide a way to keep travel moving, safely, without negatively impacting UK public testing capacity.”

Iuliia Tore