In the latest bid by the UK’s beleaguered aviation industry to put pressure on the government to ease restrictions, passengers on four routes to Heathrow will be invited to take part in a trial that offers the chance of faster queues.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic passengers checking in at Athens, Montego Bay in Jamaica, New York JFK and Los Angeles will be invited to prove their vaccination status before boarding their planes.
In total, several hundred people each day could take part in the Heathrow trial. The option will allow them to join a special arrival queue, though they will still need to comply with all the rules for “amber list” countries – including multiple tests and self-isolation at home.
It is being described as a “proof of concept,” and anonymised data will be shared with the UK government.
The move comes as leaks suggest ministers are preparing to announce a scheme to allow vaccinated people returning to the UK from “amber list” countries to avoid quarantine from as early as 19 July.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow said: “This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely at check in, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from the 19th July.”
Sean Doyle, chairman and chief executive of British Airways, 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.”
His counterpart at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, said: “To reap the benefits of the UK’s world-leading vaccine roll out, the UK hovernment must act now to remove self-isolation for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from ‘amber’ countries, and no later than the domestic reopening on 19 July.”
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, is expected to outline plans in a statement on Thursday.
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