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Virgin Atlantic Launches Preflight COVID-19 Testing Trial for Crew Members

The airline has launched a trial for onsite preflight COVID-19 testing, the first for a UK carrier. Testing started on September 30, 2020 for flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong and Virgin Atlantic plans to rollout the program for flights to Barbados in October.

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-900 - Courtesy Airbus

On Monday (October 5, 2020), Virgin Atlantic announced that they have launched onsite preflight COVID-19 testing trial for crewmembers. The carrier rolled out the program, the first for a UK carrier, on September 30, 2020 for flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong and plans to extend testing for flights to Barbados later in October. The company plans a wider rollout with monthly testing of crewmembers soon. The rapid testing program is designed to complement, rather than compete with, NHS Lighthouse lab-based testing. Virgin Atlantic further calls on the governments of the UK and US to introduce a preflight testing program for passengers so quarantine and travel restrictions can be removed.

The tests are being administered in partnership with GeneMe UK, the distributor of the FRANKD test, and the airline trial will provide pilots and cabin crew with a rapid Point of Care COVID-19 RT LAMP test. After a swab sample is taken onsite, results are delivered via the digital ID platform Yoti app. In Monday’s announcement, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Customer and Operating Officer, Corneel Koster, said,

“The introduction of onsite 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 utilize technology that is relevant, accurate and available to keep our teams and customers healthy and safe. 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 instill 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 minimize 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.”

As always, the health and safety of guests remains Virgin Atlantic’s number one priority. The carrier has introduced meticulous aircraft cleaning measures including the use of hospital-grade disinfectants and electrostatic spraying. All aircraft are equipped with HEPA filters which remove 99.9% of airborne particulates including bacteria and viruses as the cabin air is refreshed every 2-3 minutes. Virgin Atlantic guests will also receive Individual Health Packs which include medical grade facemasks, hand sanitizer and surface wipes. Additionally, the carrier has introduced complimentary global COVID-19 coverage for all new bookings from August 24, 2020 through March 31, 2020. T he insurance, which is underwritten by Allianz Assistance, offers comprehensive coverage in the event a Virgin Atlantic customer or traveling companion becomes ill with COVID-19 during their journey.

Source: Virgin Atlantic


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