This week we discuss pre-departure covid testing at LHR, United Airlines trials, Millennials setting a new standard, Thailand opens its borders and Stumpy the Blood/Labhound...
Pre-departure Covid testing launched at Heathrow
Departing passengers travelling through Heathrow’s terminals 2 and 5 this week made use of the first pre-departure Covid tests from a major UK airport.
The facility, run by travel services firm Collinson and ground handler Swissport, offers so-called LAMP Covid-19 tests for passengers travelling to destinations that require pre-departure tests, such as Hong Kong and Italy. It will be run for an initial four-week trial period.
Tests at the facility cost £80 and passengers must book a test online ahead of arrival at the airport and will be provided timing guidelines to ensure on-time check-in. The companies aim to provide departing passengers with their results in around 60 minutes.
LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) tests - developed by Oxford University - differ from the PCR tests which are required in some destinations such as Cyprus, Greece, the Bahamas and Bermuda in that they can be processed quickly and without being sent to a laboratory.
The opening of the new facility complements Collinson and Swissport’s existing ‘Test-on-Arrival’ facility at Heathrow, that, while made available for use in August, is still yet to gain UK government approval for use.
David Evans, joint CEO at Collinson, said, “With countries around the world adding the UK to their list of ‘high risk’ countries, we need to find a way to work with governments, leading travel brands and other commercial entities to safely open up travel out of the UK.
“Government restrictions around the world will continue to fluctuate, but we, with our medical services and biotech partner network, have the capability to flex our offering to bespoke country needs, ensuring that, whatever the restriction, we can provide a way to keep travel moving, safely, without negatively impacting UK public testing capacity.”
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Many other countries are already using testing to keep their borders safe while restarting trade and travel. These facilities will make it easier for passengers going to those countries to get a test and have the potential to provide a service for arriving passengers.
“Ultimately, we need a common international standard for pre-departure testing, and we welcome the UK government’s recent announcement that it wants to take a global lead in establishing this. We will work with them to make this happen as soon as possible, so that we protect livelihoods as well as lives.”
United to test digital Covid pass on London to Newark flight
United Airlines, this week tested a digital coronavirus pass on a flight from London Heathrow to New Jersey's Newark Airport.
It is part of a global pilot programme to establish a common international standard for Covid-19 test results. Passengers will upload their Covid-19 test results from a certified, trusted laboratory to their mobiles and scan the QR code at the airport.
If the pilot of the CommonPass programme is successful, it is hoped it will persuade governments to ease travel restrictions and remove or reduce quarantine requirements.
Millennials' to book with Travel Agents following Covid
Advantage Travel Partnership has claimed many millennials who don't currently use a travel agent would now do so because of the Covid pandemic.
Research conducted among 1089 consumers found that 62% of people aged 25 to 34 do not book with agents. But of them, 44% indicated they would switch to using a consultant because of the advice, expertise and reassurance they can provide during such uncertain times. The figures were portrayed by Advantage as a sign that Covid is making even DIY consumers return to a bricks and mortar agency to book their holiday.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, Chief Executive of The Advantage Travel Partnership, welcomed the findings-
'We know that consumer confidence has been severely impacted over the past six months, but it is reassuring to see that consumers do value the services that travel agents provide and would trust them to book their travel in the future, especially among the younger age groups who historically will dynamically package their own trips,' she said.
'Throughout the pandemic, travel agents have demonstrated their value and have often been the first port of call for travellers when things go wrong, providing that all-important human element during times of uncertainty.'
The survey found three quarters of respondents would travel domestically or abroad within the next three to six months if restrictions permitted them to do so, with a UK trip the most popular
Asked about testing, 55% said using a double testing method to reduce quarantine to 5-10 days on arrival back to the UK would provide them with the confidence to travel abroad now.
Lo Bue-Said added: 'It's also positive to see from the results that if the UK Government implements a testing system, travellers would be prepared to pay for a test and would have the confidence to travel without being caught out by quarantine changes.'
'Grant Shapps said this week that there will be a private sector testing regime by 1 December 2020 dependent on testing firm capacity we are certain that this will help to repair consumer confidence and get people travelling again which is critical to the survival of many travel agent businesses up and down the country.'
Thailand opens borders to Foreign Travellers
Thailand will gradually open its borders to foreign tourists after the arrival of the first batch of Chinese tourists in the country on Tuesday.
The first groups may not be in large numbers, but their arrival will show the readiness of the public health system in Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said on Wednesday.
The first phase of reopening, the monthly figure is limited to 1,200 people, the governor said, adding that the number is a far cry from the monthly average of 3 million tourists before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, the plan to boost domestic tourism will continue, Yuthasak said.
This boy keeps on giving
Stumpy (above) is a handsome labrador who was destined for a career as a guide dog. Sadly, problems with a deformed leg meant it wasn’t to be. But then Stumpy found a new way to help others - by giving blood.
The nine-year-old labrador has saved more than 100 canine lives since the age of one by donating blood for emergency transfusions.
Stumpy has been crowned the United Kingdom’s most prolific blood-donor dog. He has a negative blood type which is especially valuable because it allows his blood to be given to any dog.
Stumpy’s owner, vet Elly Pittaway, says: “Stumpy obviously has no idea what he’s doing it for, but if he did, I’m sure he’d be very proud of himself