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Heathrow’s Transatlantic Airlines Spearhead Pre-departure Testing Study


The Heathrow Observer.

November 30, 2020.


The results of pre-departure testing trials carried out by four of Heathrow’s transatlantic carriers – American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic – will be brought together by a study commissioned by the airport to demonstrate the effectiveness of pre-departure testing for passengers on international routes. The final report will be shared with governments on both sides of the Atlantic.


The group study follows on from the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ initiative, which from the 15th December, will give passengers the option to reduce their quarantine period from 14 days to five, providing they test negative for the virus. Whilst the aviation industry has welcomed ‘Test to Release’, it has been clear that the ultimate objective for passenger testing is a pre-departure regime, and the combined airline trials aim to make the case for this much needed solution. The study will be funded by Heathrow and seeks to provide a better understanding of how pre-departure testing could be used to safely eradicate the need for self-isolation on arrival.


Heathrow will have access to anonymised testing data generated by each of the separate pre-departure trials being conducted by participating airlines. Each trial is unique to each airline, but these variations will provide richer and more diverse data that will strengthen the study’s conclusions. The cumulative results of the various tests will help the industry and governments to evaluate which pre-departure testing approach is practical and safe enough to replace quarantine and other travel restrictions.

The number and scale of the carriers involved makes this the largest pre-departures study in the UK. Specialist oversight will be p