May 26, 2024

Heathrow starts trial to prove it’s safe to ease restrictions for double-jabbed arrivals

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow start a trial this week designed to show the Government that it’s safe to move forward with plans to remove quarantine requirements for double-vaccinated passengers entering the UK from ‘amber list’ countries.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that exempting fully-vaccinated travellers from self-isolation would happen “later this summer” and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to provide more details tomorrow.

Under the Heathrow trial, fully-vaccinated volunteers arriving on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay and New York will show proof of their vaccine status in a special fast-track process.

The trial aims to reassure the Government that airlines and airports can check passengers’ vaccine status without putting further pressure on UK immigration halls. 

BA customers will be able to access a discounted rate for the mandatory arrivals tests.

Data from the trials will be shared with the UK Government “at the earliest opportunity”, providing insights to support the relaxation of travel restrictions.

The industry hopes the quarantine for amber list arrivals will be scrapped no later than July 19, allowing the UK to catch-up with the EU and US which have already introduced similar schemes.

The trial will accept the use of NHS app, CDC card, US state-level digital certification and EU Digital Covid Credential.

BA will also support customers’ vaccine verification through the VeriFLY app and Virgin Atlantic customers can verify their vaccine certificate through a new digital tool developed in partnership with Delta Air Lines.

It is hoped the trial will be quickly expanded to other formats, including IATA Travel Pass.

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO and Chairman, said: “We need to act quickly to protect jobs, rebuild 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.”

Shai Weiss, CEO Virgin Atlantic, added: “The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake.”

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, also urged the UK Government to make progress on reopening travel between the UK and the US after a designated taskforce was established to look at this back at the G7.