BA and Virgin to trial ID process for vaccinated arrivals at Heathrow Airport

Hundreds of travellers from red list countries enter UK “without any border checks”. Image: Pixabay

BA and Virgin to trial ID process for vaccinated arrivals at Heathrow Airport to speed up border control.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport have joined forces to trial an identification process in a bid to prove it’s possible to quickly and easily verify those arriving into the UK who are fully vaccinated.

A scheme, similar to one already in place for outbound travel to several countries, will come into force later this week at Britain’s busiest airport.

The proof of concept trial allows inbound travellers of all nationalities to present their fully-vaccinated status, with the airlines and Heathrow saying it will fully support the government on its plans to remove quarantine for double-jabbed passengers entering the UK from ‘amber list’ countries.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is due to give an update on the introduction of quarantine-free travel from amber list countries ‘later this week’, with the policy due to be rolled out ‘later this summer’.

Fully vaccinated volunteers travelling on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay and New York to Heathrow will show proof of their vaccine status as part of the trial, which aims to reassure the government that airlines and airports can check vaccine status “upstream” and away from the border, reducing further pressure on UK immigration halls.

Those taking part in the trial will be able to use a dedicated arrivals lane and British Airways customers will be able to access a discounted rate for the mandatory arrivals tests.

Those taking part on arrivals from amber list countries will continue to adhere to current restrictions and anonymised data will be shared with the UK government “at the earliest opportunity”.

Internationally-recognised vaccination credentials to be accepted in the proving trial include the NHS app, CDC card, US state-level digital certification and EU Digital Covid Credential.

British Airways will also support customers’ vaccine verification through the VeriFLY app and Virgin Atlantic customers can verify their vaccine certificate through a new digital uploader tool, developed in partnership with Delta Air Lines and backed by TrustAssure™ technology.

As the proof-of-concept develops, the options for customers to show vaccine status will “rapidly” be expanded, across physical, digital and integrated formats, including IATA Travel Pass.

Earlier this week, Germany became the latest country to confirm it would accept fully vaccinated UK travellers without the need to quarantine. France, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta all accept fully vaccinated travellers, including US residents, without the need for quarantine

“We need to act quickly to protect jobs, re-build 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 that 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,” said Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive and chairman.

“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 July 19.

“In addition to this, the UK government must make progress on reopening travel between the US after a designated task force was established to look at this back at the G7.

“Heathrow is the main port for trade in goods and services with the US, the only country with whom the UK has a trade surplus. New research today demonstrates just how critical it is to the UK economy to get the passenger planes that carry those exports off the ground.

“This is a vital step towards delivering the Government’s ambitions for Global Britain and they now need to act fast,” said John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow.

“To reap the benefits of the UK’s world-leading vaccine rollout, the UK government must act now to remove self-isolation for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from ‘amber’ countries, and no later than the domestic reopening on July 19.

“Our proof-of-concept trial on selected US and Caribbean routes demonstrates our readiness as an industry to rapidly operationalise the new policy, and work with government and authorities to ensure it is smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the transatlantic corridor, without which £23 million is lost each day from the UK economy.

“The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact the economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake,” said Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic.

 


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Ron Howells

Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!. Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.

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