Gatwick airport start PCR tests for £60 from 30th November
Gatwick Airport has announced today (Friday) that it's introducing a privately-run, paid-for Covid-19 screening service aimed at passengers, staff and local residents, with tests starting on Monday November 30th from its site in the South Terminal car park.
The tests are aimed mainly at passengers who need a negative test certificate before travelling, but they will also offer tests on arrival into the UK if needed. These could satisfy post-arrival requirements for a possible government "test and release" system to ease travel restrictions and quarantine.
While the airport confirmed the free NHS Test and Trace centre is still operating on the North Terminal's car park, this new service, offered with private partner ExpressTest, has a two-tier pricing system:
£60 for Gatwick air passengers (and on-airport staff).
£99 for the general public.
A group discount is also offered, with up to 30% off for groups of four or more, for those who are having the full priced test.
The airport expects its on-line booking portal to go live next Friday, 27th November, with first appointments available from Monday, 30th November. The testing site is set to offer what an airport spokesperson called a "fast and accurate laboratory-analysed PCR swab test".
Airport bosses suggested the test may be useful for air passengers who need a valid, negative Covid-19 test certificate for destinations requiring one from up to 96 hours before travel, but they added passengers must check with travel providers, to see that the test meets the specific requirements destinations ask for.
It could also help those who may simply want extra assurance that they are not currently carrying the virus, but anyone with recognisable Covid-19 symptoms will still need to use an NHS testing facility, the airport added.
Stewart Wingate, the Chief Executive Officer of Gatwick Airport, said: “Reducing the spread of COVID-19 is a priority for us alongside giving confidence to so many people who have missed travelling during this difficult year. Our new screening facility is also a convenient service to offer people in the region looking for extra reassurance.”
"We are pleased to be subsidising the price for our passengers and any staff based at Gatwick so they are compliant with current destination requirements that many of airlines including easyJet, British Airways and TUI fly to, especially the Canary Islands. A truly international approach would safely open up most of the UK’s travel routes abroad, while also helping to reduce transmission of the virus.”
“Our industry has been decimated by the pandemic and, while we welcome the anticipated “test and release” scheme from the UK Government, we want to see an internationally agreed pre-departure testing regime, based on existing risk criteria, to replace the current uncertainty of quarantine and patchwork of testing approaches which currently exists across Europe.
ExpressTest Founder Nick Markham says: “We are delighted to be Gatwick airport’s official screening partner. We launched ExpressTest to give people peace of mind, whether that’s enabling travel through our Fit to Fly certificates, or providing the reassurance needed to safely visit friends and family abroad or within the UK.
"In the next couple of months we aim to have more than 30 locations operating across the UK, with the ambition of giving the British public the confidence to go about their daily lives in these uncertain times.”
Airline passengers were advised to schedule a test 48-96 hours prior to their departure time, as a precaution. Those who screen negative will be emailed a Fit to Fly certificate that is authorised by a doctor, along with their test result.
However, passengers will be responsible for checking with their travel provider as to whether this document is accepted before booking the screening service.