Virgin Atlantic introduces on site pre-flight Covid-19 testing trial for crew
Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is the first UK airline to introduce Covid-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots.
Launched on the 30 September on flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong, the airline plans to extend the trial to Barbados and select services later in October, before a wider roll out to test every operating crew at least once per month.
In partnership with GeneMe UK, official distributor of the FRANKD test, the airline trial is offering crew and pilots a Point of Care Covid-19 RT LAMP test. In independent laboratory tests, FRANKD is shown to be 100% specific and 97% sensitive to detecting SARS-CoV-2.
Through integration with the digital ID platform Yoti, the test process is fast, secure, paperless and does not require a lab. After a swab is taken on site, results are processed and delivered on the Yoti app within 30 minutes.
The airline has also introduced cleaning measures such as disinfecting the aircraft before each flight and filtering the air to remove dust, allergens, bacteria and viruses. It also provides individual health packs to all customers which include hand sanitizers, face masks and surface wipes.
Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer, Virgin Atlantic, commented: “The introduction of on site pre-flight Covid-19 testing for our crew and pilots ensures we remain at the forefront of the aviation industry’s safe return to the skies. As testing technology and Covid-19 requirements around the world develop, we want to utilise technology that is relevant, accurate and available to keep our teams and customers healthy and safe.”
Koster added: “This trial is a first step in our phased plan to introduce regular testing for all of our teams in the air and on the ground, in order to instil confidence in flying. However, we continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime. We need urgent action from UK and US governments to introduce pre departure testing, to remove the need for quarantine and to minimise travel restrictions, while protecting public health and half a million UK jobs associated with the sector.
"As long as the UK’s 14 day quarantine is 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.”