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American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld launch transatlantic coronavirus testing trial

Christian Fernsby |
American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld have launched an optional coronavirus (coronavirus) medical-based testing trial on select flights from cities in the United States to London Heathrow (LHR).

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The free tests will initially be offered to eligible customers booked on American Airlines Flight AA50 departing Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to LHR; British Airways Flight BA114 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to LHR; and British Airways Flight BA268 from Los Angeles (LAX) to LHR, beginning November 25.

The test will be expanded to American Airlines Flight AA106 from JFK to LHR, with a launch date to be communicated.

Eligible customers booked on flights that are part of the trial will be contacted by American Airlines and British Airways with instructions on how to volunteer.

Each customer participating in the trial will take three tests in conjunction with the journey.

If a customer tests positive, they should reschedule or cancel their travel.

The first test, to be taken 72 hours before departure from the U.S., is a convenient at-home RT-PCR test provided by LetsGetChecked.

Customers will self-collect a nasal sample, under the supervision of medical professionals via a virtual visit.

After landing at LHR, participating customers will proceed to their second test at the airport.

The LAMP test, provided by Collinson, involves the collection of a nasal sample by a medical professional.

After the test is completed, a test kit for the third test will be provided to the customer.

The third test kit offers an at-home testing option through the self-collection of a saliva sample which is taken three days after arrival in to the United Kingdom.

The three-test approach aims to validate a customer’s negative status for coronavirus throughout the travel journey and will provide insight into the most effective and practical testing interval.

The third test is intended to further confirm the results of the first two tests, to demonstrate that one or two tests will be sufficient to allow travel to safely restart.

Trade between the UK and U.S. totals more than $262 billion a year, which airlines are critical to facilitating.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, together American Airlines and British Airways flew to more than 30 destinations in the U.S. from London.

Today, the carriers are flying a fraction of that figure.

Previously, the carriers operated up to 111 flights a week from London to New York; now they operate 14 flights per week combined between the two cities.

Based on current UK Government policies, international travelers arriving in the UK from the U.S. are required to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have tested negative for coronavirus.

The tests being used as part of the trial will not impact UK National Health Service testing capacity.

British Airways and American Airlines have worked with Heathrow on implementation of the trial in to Terminal 5, and as a result Heathrow is now exploring whether trials can be introduced on more routes between the airport and the US.

A study issued on 27 October by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that a robust, multi-layered strategy can effectively reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus during air travel.

The study also found that the universal use of face coverings is the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce coronavirus transmission while traveling by air.

The study also noted that to date the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not confirmed a single case of viral transmission on a U.S. plane.

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