British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport launch trials for fully vaccinated customers

British Airways made this announcement:

VeriFLY and BA

  • Later this week customers traveling on selected flights from the US, Caribbean and Europe to London Heathrow will be invited to take part in a proving trial to support the Government in lifting some of the most onerous restrictions for travelers arriving from ‘amber list’ countries
  • Fully vaccinated travelers of all nationalities will be able to present their Covid-19 credentials in digital or paper format to help prove vaccination status can be quickly and easily checked away from the border and allow safe entry to the UK
  • Anonymized data will be shared with the UK Government at the earliest opportunity, providing real-world insights to support the introduction of a scheme to exempt fully vaccinated passengers from self-isolation
  • Participants will continue to adhere to current restrictions for travelers entering from ‘amber list’ countries during the trial period
  • The proof-of-concept aims to support the Government to introduce exemptions for fully vaccinated travelers no later than 19 July, allowing the UK to catch-up with the EU and US, which have already introduced similar schemes
  • Routes including Los Angeles-LAX and New York-JFK have been chosen given Transatlantic air links between the US and UK are vital to re-start business, reunite families and allow people to go on holiday

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport have joined forces to prove it’s possible to quickly and easily verify those arriving into the UK who are fully vaccinated – an identification process already in place for outbound travel to several countries. Earlier this week, Germany became the latest country to confirm it would accept fully vaccinated UK travelers without the need to quarantine. The new UK proving trial, enabling inbound travelers to present their fully vaccinated status, will support the Government to move forward with its plans to remove quarantine for double jabbed passengers entering the UK from ‘amber list’ countries.

The initiative will see fully vaccinated volunteers traveling on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay and New York to London Heathrow showing proof of their vaccine status. The trial aims to reassure Government that airlines and airports can check vaccine status upstream and away from the Border, ensuring no further pressure in UK immigration halls. Those taking part in the trial will be able to use a dedicated arrivals lane at the border and British Airways customers will be able to access a discounted rate for the mandatory arrivals tests.

Internationally recognized vaccination credentials will be accepted in the proving trial including 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.

The UK has led the world with its successful vaccine program, which the Government promised would lead to the end of Covid restrictions. To date, 86% of UK adults have had a first dose of a Covid vaccine, with 64% fully vaccinated. Data from Public Health England has shown two doses of the vaccines offer 79% protection against becoming ill from the Delta variant and reduces the likelihood of needing hospitalization by 96%.

Despite this incredible achievement the UK is failing to reap the economic and social rewards, falling behind countries like France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, all of which accept fully vaccinated travelers, including US residents, without the need for quarantine. The US also allows its fully vaccinated residents to avoid self-isolation. The Government’s own transparency data also continues to show very low positivity in test results from ‘green’ and ‘amber’ country arrivals, with just 0.4% testing positive, and none of them had a variant of concern.

Representatives from the travel industry have been clear about the consequences for the UK’s economy and jobs of not opening the corridor quickly enough, with hundreds taking part in a day of action on June 23. Today, Heathrow released new research from CEBR, reinforcing the importance of aviation to the Government’s ambitions for Global Britain, which could help industry deliver a £204 billion trade boost to benefit every corner of the UK. Heathrow has warned that this cannot be realized unless the UK’s aviation industry is supported by Government policies to resume flying as soon as possible. By capitalizing on the country’s vaccine dividend, ministers can help to deliver this economic stimulus for exporters across Britain, ensuring the UK retains its competitive edge as the country comes out of lockdown.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson restated that this important step to exempt fully vaccinated travelers from self-isolation would happen ‘later this summer’, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps set to provide more detail this week. It’s hoped the proof-of-concept will encourage the Government to introduce exemptions for fully vaccinated travelers no later than 19 July, allowing the UK to catch-up with the EU and US, which have already introduced similar schemes.