Doncaster Sheffield Airport has described the Government’s testing strategy for passengers arriving into England from December 15 as a ‘step in the right direction’ to get the aviation industry back on its feet again.
The testing strategy, outlined by Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, reduce the current 14-day period of self-isolation to five days, on receipt of a negative COVID-19 test, from a private provider.
It is hoped the move will give passengers much-needed confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period, if they have received a negative test. Passengers will be required to book and pay for a COVID-19 test from a private provider, from the Government’s approved list of suppliers, in an effort to ensure the capacity of the NHS Test and Trace system is protected.
Alongside this announcement, the Government has also introduced financial support designed to provide commercial airports and ground handlers in England with relief equivalent to their business rate costs, capped at up to £8m per site.
This business relief is consistent with other industries such as the hospitality sector. Providing Doncaster Sheffield Airport meets the criteria, yet to be released, it will go some way to supporting high fixed-operating costs, in a year that has seen over 80 per cent reduction in passenger traffic, resulting in a catastrophic loss of revenue.
A spokesperson for Doncaster Sheffield Airport said: “Today’s announcement from the Government, both in terms of significantly relaxing the period of self-isolation for inbound passengers and business support, are a step in the right direction for what has been a punishing year for airports. To date, the aviation industry has received little financial support through what has been an unprecedented situation.
“The aviation industry has done everything within its power to give customers confidence to get up in the air, such as favourable terms to give passengers flexibility, and both airlines and airports have put in place rigorous covid-secure health and safety measures. We hope that today’s announcement from the Government brings some clarity so we can offer our customers the reassurances they so desperately need.”
Airlines and Tour operators have been quick to respond to the announcement, Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s biggest operators, Wizz Air and TUI have introduced discounted rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers to ease the cost of testing.
Wizz has partnered with Confirm Testing for its ‘Fit to Fly’ package which includes a PCR swab test and certificate at £85 per person. TUI has teamed up with healthcare partner Randox and is offering a discount code for passengers to receive next-day delivery home-testing kits.
Owain Jones, managing director, Wizz Air UK, said: “At Wizz Air, we are committed to getting the UK flying safely again, so it is with great excitement that we announce our partnership with Confirm Testing, through which our customers can secure the necessary testing services at a specially discounted price to travel internationally safely and confidently.
“We welcome the government’s new testing strategy, which will allow travellers returning to the UK to isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test. This is a vital step in stimulating demand for air travel and promoting the recovery of the UK aviation sector.”