(Bloomberg) — Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. will carry out rapid pre-flight coronavirus testing for cabin crew and pilots from its base at London’s Heathrow airport, the company said on Monday.



a close up of a cage: A security fence stands near grounded passenger aircraft, operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., at Manchester Airport, operated by Manchester Airport Plc, in Manchester, U.K., on Monday, June 1, 2020. More than 200 U.K. travel and hospitality executives, including the head of London’s iconic Ritz hotel, joined a chorus of airlines and airports calling for the government to introduce air bridges to boost tourism and scrap contentious plans to quarantine visitors.


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A security fence stands near grounded passenger aircraft, operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., at Manchester Airport, operated by Manchester Airport Plc, in Manchester, U.K., on Monday, June 1, 2020. More than 200 U.K. travel and hospitality executives, including the head of London’s iconic Ritz hotel, joined a chorus of airlines and airports calling for the government to introduce air bridges to boost tourism and scrap contentious plans to quarantine visitors.

The carrier said it launched a trial on flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong on Sept. 30 and is planning a wider roll-out that will involve testing every operating crew at least a once a month. The trial comes at a time when coronavirus cases are rising in the U.K and globally and travel restrictions abound. The measures are designed to “instill confidence in flying,” Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.

However, the beleaguered carrier also reiterated calls for the wider development of a rapid passenger testing system that would enable healthy flyers to avoid mandatory quarantine measures in force in the U.K. and the U.S. Such tests are seen as the best hope for the aviation industry to overcome additional travel curbs that have brought a modest traffic rebound over the summer to a halt. Virgin Atlantic has halved its pre-virus payroll to preserve its rescue funding.

“As long as the U.K’s 14-day quarantine is in place, demand for travel will not return and the U.K.’s economic recovery, which relies on free flowing trade and tourism, cannot take off,” Corneel Koster, Virgin Atlantic’s chief customer and operating officer, said in a statement. “We continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime.”

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