Heathrow to introduce fast-lane for vaccinated travellers
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow have joined forces to assess if it can be quick and easy to verify those arriving into the UK who are fully vaccinated.
The trio argue a similar identification process is already in place for outbound travel to several countries and should be rolled out further.
Earlier this week, Germany became the latest country to confirm it would accept fully vaccinated UK travellers without the need to quarantine.
The new UK proving trial, enabling inbound travellers to present their fully vaccinated status, will support the government to move forward with its plans to remove quarantine for double jabbed passengers entering the UK from amber list countries.
The initiative will see fully vaccinated volunteers travelling on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay and New York to London Heathrow showing proof of their vaccine status.
The trial aims to reassure government that airlines and airports can check vaccine status upstream and away from the border, ensuring no further pressure in UK immigration halls.
Those taking part in the trial will be able to use a dedicated arrivals lane at the border and British Airways customers will be able to access a discounted rate for the mandatory arrivals tests.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from the July 19th.
“In addition to this, the UK government must make progress on reopening travel between the US after a designated taskforce was established to look at this back at the G7.
“Heathrow is the main port for trade in goods and services with the US, the only country with whom the UK has a trade surplus.”
Internationally recognised vaccination credentials will be accepted in the proving trial including the NHS app, CDC card, US state-level digital certification and EU Digital Covid Credential.
British Airways will also support customers’ vaccine verification through the VeriFLY app and Virgin Atlantic customers can verify their vaccine certificate through a new digital uploader tool, developed in partnership with Delta Air Lines and backed by TrustAssure technology.
As the proof-of-concept develops, the options for customers to show vaccine status will rapidly be expanded, across physical, digital and integrated formats, including IATA Travel Pass.
The UK has led the world with its successful vaccine programme, which the Government promised would lead to the end of Covid restrictions.
To date, 86 per cent of UK adults have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with 64 per cent fully vaccinated.
Data from Public Health England has shown two doses of the vaccines offer 79 per cent protection against becoming ill from the Delta variant and reduces the likelihood of needing hospitalisation by 96 per cent.
Despite this incredible achievement the UK is failing to reap the economic and social rewards, argues the airlines, falling behind countries like France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, all of which accept fully vaccinated travellers, including US residents, without the need for quarantine.
The US also allows its fully vaccinated residents to avoid self-isolation.
Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive, said: “We need to act quickly to protect jobs, re-build the UK economy and reunite loved ones.
“We are already helping our customers show proof of their vaccination status when travelling to a number of other countries outside the UK which require it, and we’re confident we can make this happen for entry to Britain too, very quickly.
“We look forward to providing the data that proves it’s simple for fully vaccinated status to be verified and to the Government meeting its commitment to get the country moving again.”