Passengers departing Heathrow now have the option to apply for a rapid COVID-19 test, with the results delivered on-site within one hour.

London's Heathrow became the first UK airport to offer pre-departure COVID-19 tests this week. Passengers flying to Hong Kong were the first to test the pre-booked service on Tuesday at a cost of £80 each. The Oxford Lamp pilot testing scheme, which uses a nose and throat swab, will be rolled out for passengers flying on airlines that require pre-departure tests including British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic.

According to aviation firm Swissport and the Collinson Group, who launched the scheme, passengers must pre-book their tests with Collinson online before arriving at the airport. They'll be given a time-slot relative to their check-in and departure time. Special testing facilities have been set up in Terminal 2 and 5 and are applicable to passengers traveling to a country where a reciprocal agreement is in place.

The results are available within one hour. If the passenger tests negative, they can continue their trip as normal. However, if they receive a positive result, they will be denied boarding. David Evans, the Collinson joint chief executive, 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."

A pilot wears a facemask as he arrives at Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport
Results are available within one-hour ©Adrian Dennis / AFP / Getty Images

The group is also waiting to get the green light for a two-step arrivals test so that passengers traveling into England from high-risk countries can bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule if they test negative.

Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye added, "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."

This article was first published on July 7 and updated on October 21, 2020.

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This article was first published Jul 7, 2020 and updated Oct 21, 2020.

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