Airline trade body calls for investigation into coronavirus testing charges

Aine Fox, PA
·2 min read

A travel trade body has called for an investigation into the costs of coronavirus tests for people in the UK wanting to go abroad on holidays this year.

A “framework” for the resumption of overseas leisure travel has been announced by the Transport Secretary, which includes requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.

Post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120, Grant Shapps said.

The requirement has led to a furious backlash from the travel industry, which wants travellers returning from low-risk countries to be allowed to take lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and quicker.

A Government source said identifying coronavirus variants can only be done with PCR tests.

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Recognising that “costs are definitely a concern”, Mr Shapps said on Friday that he is undertaking to “drive down the costs of those tests and looking at some innovative things we could do”.

The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, has called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate testing prices.

It said in a statement: “Engage the UK Competition and Markets Authority to act in the interests of consumers and launch an immediate investigation into coronavirus testing charges.”

It has also called for all coronavirus tests to be made exempt from VAT, saying that such a tax on testing “is an unnecessary barrier to the very travel that this initiative is trying to facilitate”.

The CMA said any new cases or investigations would be announced on its website.