British Airways (BA) has partnered with coronavirus test provider Cignpost, which offers PCR tests for £60, in a bid to make travel abroad easier this summer.
City A.M. can reveal that Cignpost, which is one of the government’s accredited test providers, will become a provider to the flag carrier.
As part of this, the firm will open 10 new test centres, including sites at London Paddington, London Brent Cross, and Reading.
It will also expand its existing facilities at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Edinburgh airports.
BA chief executive Sean Doyle said: “At British Airways we are committed to ensuring our customers can easily access affordable tests to help them on their journey.
“We believe that with a combination of vaccinations and testing, we can re-open the skies safely and we are working with specialist organisations including Cignpost ExpressTest which share our enthusiasm in finding ways to make travel as frictionless as possible.”
Nick Markham, Cignpost’s co-founder, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for anyone traveling abroad to visit a COVID-19 testing site. These new sites now cover most of the main cities across Britain.
“Whatever tests are required by the Government for holidays or business travel, we can deliver them at an affordable cost. We all know there is a pent-up demand for travelling abroad this summer but people also want to ensure they do so safely.”
The cost of testing has been identified as one of the major barriers to a full return of travel, even if restrictions lift as planned on 17 May.
At the moment, PCR tests, which the government has said travellers will have to take even if they are going to countries on the “green list”, cost an average of £99 in the UK.
By comparison, Greece has capped such testing at €60 – about half the price.
Airlines and travel firms have warned that having tests cost so much will exclude many people from being able to go on holiday.
In response, the government said that it was working on ways to bring the price down.
And last night, transport secretary Grant Shapps told an online webinar that the government was mulling allowing passengers to take a cheaper lateral flow test before going abroad.
He also said that undergoing accreditation to offer a £45 PCR test and said the list of approved providers would be made clearer.
Cignpost is not the first provider to offer a £60 test; last week, fellow testing firm Randox did the same.