TASKFORCE EXAMINES COVID TESTING TRIAL

American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld have teamed up with researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the University of Oxford, in the review and analysis of survey data from the COVID-19 testing trial recently launched by the airlines and alliance.

The project, Trust, Testing and Travel, Technology Use, Traveller Knowledge and Compliance with COVID-19 Health Rules, involves OII researchers analysing aggregated, non-personal survey data from air travellers on their behaviour and sentiment toward trial testing.

The airlines and the alliance have created a taskforce to evaluate the results of the trial. The task force, comprising oneworld member airline representatives and independent medical experts, will work with OII, to consider the results and implications of the survey data from participants in the trial.

Professor Phil Howard, Director of OII, said, “The University of Oxford is already playing a leading role in the fight against COVID-19 with development of a vaccine. I’m delighted that researchers at the OII will be working to analyse and review survey data from this important trial so that we understand more about the options available for safer air travel.”

In a joint statement, American, British Airways and oneworld said, “We are pleased to be working with one of the world’s leading academic institutions to review the results of our testing trial passenger survey, which we hope will help provide governments on both sides of the Atlantic with the evidence they need to unlock travel and kick-start the global economy. Moving away from quarantines in favour of comprehensive testing programs has the potential to markedly boost customer confidence in air travel.”

So far, more than 500 customers have registered for the trial on select flights operated by American and British Airways, from the United States to London Heathrow. Many customers have expressed interest in having the testing trials expanded to more routes.

As a result, the trial has been expanded to include British Airways’ flight BA208 departing Miami (MIA) to LHR, and flight BA112 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport to LHR. This increases the total number of daily flights in the trial to five across four gateways, ensuring a comprehensive and wide ranging set of data from different parts of the United States.

The trial is being offered on the following flights:

  • American Airlines flight AA50 departing Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to London Heathrow (LHR).
  • British Airways flight BA114 departing New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) to LHR.
  • British Airways flight BA268 departing Los Angeles (LAX) to LHR.
  • British Airways flight BA208 departing Miami (MIA) to LHR, beginning Dec. 10.
  • British Airways flight BA112 departing JFK to LHR, beginning Dec. 10.

The optional trial for each individual passenger will comprise: An initial at-home PCR test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the USA. A second LAMP test will take place upon arrival at LHR. A third PCR test is to be taken three days after arrival in the UK.

The joint trial will offer free tests to passengers who choose to participate in the programme.

The ultimate objective of this trial, and others, is to validate that a pre-departure test provides a high level of certainty of a passenger being COVID-19 negative, which are hoped to result in policies that further relax U.S. and UK border restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine and entry into the United States.

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