Airport Covid testing could start within weeks, says Heathrow chief

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Covid testing for passengers arriving in the UK could begin within weeks, according to Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye. The airport has been told by Boris Johnson that the government is aiming to begin trials by mid-October, with the potential for a New York-London route opening by the end of November.

The model is expected to use the two-test approach for those arriving from high-risk countries. In a system that would effectively cut the current 14-day quarantine at least in half, passengers will take one test before departure, and another five or seven days after arrival.

Speaking during a Travel Weekly webcast, Holland-Kaye said that following successful trials, the resumption of flights between New York and London, one of the world’s busiest routes, would be “entirely feasible” by Thanksgiving (26 November). This would rely on the UK and US governments agreeing to a pilot project, which could then be rolled out to other countries with the aim of creating an “international standard”.

“We’ve heard from the prime minister that he hopes to go to a trial in the second half of October,” Holland-Kaye said. “It would take a couple of weeks to put into practice, but 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’ll see ‘rapid point-of-care’ tests becoming more normal.”

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