Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce COVID-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots. Launched at the end of 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 rapid 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.
Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: “While the COVID-19 testing landscape evolves, we continue to be in discussions with multiple providers offering different technologies to guarantee the best solution possible, while absolutely ensuring that we do not compete with the NHS for vital resources.
“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.”