Grant Shapps addresses cost of PCR tests for travellers
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Britons could be jetting off on holiday from May 17 according to Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown. However, as part of the “traffic light system” for travel, put forward by the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce, holidaymakers will be required to undergo PCR tests.
Though this has caused some concerns within the industry, with tests averaging at around £120, British Airways and Thomas Cook are set to offer passengers “heavily discounted” tests.
It comes as both airlines strike a deal with Northern Ireland-based Randox.
According to Randox: “In order to achieve the £60 price, which is limited to those undertaking international travel, purchasers will need to apply a discount code which can initially be obtained from airlines when booking travel.”
Passengers will be able to order a PCR test kit online, at a cost, which is delivered to the customer’s home.
They will be able to take the test themselves, before sending it back to the laboratory to be analysed by experts.
However, the deal is only valid with participating airlines that are working with Random.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman, and CEO said: “As we prepare for a safe return to travel, we remain focused on offering our customers the most convenient and affordable testing options, to support and facilitate a seamless travel experience.
“We are pleased to be working with Randox to offer British Airways customers an affordable PCR test that meets the UK Government’s requirements.”
Thomas Cook, which has recently revived as an online travel agent, is also promising “heavily discounted” tests for customers.
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A spokesperson explained: “Further to the news that Randox is offering heavily discounted tests to selected partners, I wanted to confirm that all Thomas Cook customers will now be able to benefit from these discounted £60 PCR tests.
“This includes any need for a test prior to leaving the UK and day two and day eight tests, as well as test to release if chosen, once a customer has returned home.
“We already had a deal that meant our customers had tests discounted to £85 so this is a substantial improvement on even that reduction.”
Though the cheaper tests are likely welcome news from those intending to book with specific airlines, some experts have raised concerns.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “While it is, of course, good news to see a test provider reduce its costs, it’s unhelpful that this comes with strings attached in that passengers may have to book with certain airlines.
“More oversight of testing costs across the board is needed to ensure that testing is affordable to all who need or want to travel abroad, whoever they want to book with.
“The Government should look at ways it can work with test providers to reduce the cost of mandatory testing, as many other countries have, to ensure that when international travel resumes, it is safe and affordable for all.”
The Government’s requirement for passengers to take multiple tests, even when travelling to “green list” countries, has also raised some safety concerns among other industry insiders.
Brian Sutton, general secretary of pilot’s association Balpa told Sky News on Wednesday morning that the hunt for affordable PCR tests could open the UK up to “danger”.
“Last night someone told me they had seen somewhere that offers quite a cheap test and I looked that up and I didn’t think that was a very reputable company,” he explained.
“And that is the danger, of course, that people go looking for ways of getting tests.
“I think if the Government is demanding these tests the Government should be subsidising them to make them reasonable.”
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