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Heathrow commissions report into pre-flight testing

Heathrow commissions report into pre-flight testing

The results of pre-departure testing trials carried out by four transatlantic carriers at Heathrow will be brought together by a study commissioned by the airport.

It is hoped the work will demonstrate the effectiveness of pre-departure testing for passengers on international routes.

The final report – drawing on work from American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic – will be shared with governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

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 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 provided by Oxera and Edge Health, who will author the study.

Oxera and Edge Health have previously identified a lack of real-world pre-departures data on which to base analysis of the effectiveness of this type of testing model.

The combined trials will be entirely free of charge for passengers and take place on selected transatlantic routes.

It is expected that the study will assess the effectiveness of PCR tests, LAMP and Lateral Flow Antigen devices, where used on each airline’s trial routes.

Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “These trials will build on the government’s initial testing strategy, setting a standard for a safer and more comprehensive approach to passenger testing, that we hope will accelerate the return to travel as we once knew it.

“With Brexit imminent, we need to urgently find the most effective way to restore the UK’s trading network and facilitate safe global travel, keeping Britain competitive as it leaves the EU.”