(24 May 2021)
The results of a joint trial conducted by
American Airlines, British Airways and the oneworld alliance show
that a comprehensive COVID19 testing programme can help re-open
international travel, safely.
This is underpinned by analysis from
researchers at the University of Oxford who studied data on how
passengers evaluate risk and comply with COVID19 rules.
The study by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII),
‘Trust, Testing and Travel, Technology Use, Traveller Knowledge
and Compliance with COVID19 Health Rules’, analysed aggregated
survey data from almost 600 travellers who took part in the
voluntary trial on select flights from the U.S. to London
Heathrow (LHR), between November 2020 and March 2021. The trial
offered three complimentary COVID19 tests, taken throughout the
Customers participating in the trial, conducted in
two phases, took an initial PCR test at 72 hours prior to
departure; a second test (LAMP) upon arrival at London Heathrow
(LHR); and a third test (PCR) taken three to five days after
arrival in the UK.
In the trial’s first phase, just 1% of travellers
who took a test within 72 hours of their departure tested positive
and, as a result of the test, they did not travel. None of the
travellers who took a test upon arrival at LHR tested positive. Of
the travellers who took the third test after arriving in the UK,
just 0.4%, of travellers tested positive.
Analysis by researchers at Oxford Internet
Institute suggests that the results were “broadly
consistent” with earlier testing trial programmes in the aviation
Importantly, 99.7% of travellers said they were
happy to adhere to COVID19 testing requirements as an alternative
to quarantine after international travel and are prepared to pay
for affordable testing.
Almost 70% of travellers said they would travel if
required to take a COVID19 test within 72 hours prior to
departure. The same number said they would be willing to take a
COVID19 test before departure as well as after arrival.
70% of travellers said they would be likely to travel if required
to take a test at the airport before departure, and about 75% of
travellers are willing to be tested at the airport upon arrival at
Asked what they would be prepared to pay, nearly
80% of travellers said they would pay for COVID19 testing, with
the majority prepared to pay US$ 50 (£35) or less for each test.
Only 15% of travellers are prepared to pay more than US$ 100 (£70)
for COVID19 testing.
Findings of the Oxford study will be shared with
governments and stakeholders, in an important addition to the
growing body of knowledge that shows how comprehensive COVID19
testing can provide governments the confidence they need to lift
entry restrictions and allow travel to safely resume.
Prof Philip Howard, Professor of Internet Studies
at Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, said, “As many
countries make progress on vaccinating their citizens the debate
over reopening travel safely is becoming increasingly important.
I’m pleased our team has been able to make a contribution to this
discussion through this detailed analysis of passenger sentiment
In a joint statement on the Oxford findings,
American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld, said, “The Oxford
study further reinforces that customers are willing to undergo
COVID19 testing as an alternative to quarantine. The trial
findings underline the important role that testing can play in the
safe reopening of international travel, including hugely
significant routes between the U.S. and UK. The affordability of
testing is crucial for travellers, and we stand ready to partner
with governments and the private sector to offer affordable
testing options for our customers who would like or need to travel
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