Bristol Airport launches Covid-19 tests for passengers arriving on international flights

December 17, 2020

Passengers flying into Bristol Airport can now book to have a Covid-19 test five days after their arrival which could reduce the time they need to quarantine in the UK.

The airport, which has been hit hard by a major drop in international travel caused by the pandemic, has teamed up with German firm SYNLAB – Europe's leading provider of laboratory diagnostic services – to provide the tests. 

The airport’s bosses, in line with those from other UK airports, have been urging the government for months to allow them to stage their own tests for passengers arriving on international flights rather than force them to isolate for 10 days  – the period was recently reduced from 14 days.

The SYNLAB Covid-19 testing service has become available under the government’s Test to Release international travel scheme, which launched this week.

Under the scheme, travellers arriving from a country on England’s quarantine list can pay to take a private Covid-19 PCR test after completing five days of self-isolation. If the test result is negative, they will no longer need to self-isolate.

Tests can be booked on SYNLAB’s website and cost £59.99 each for Bristol Airport passengers and £99.99 for other customers in England.

The PCR swabs taken from the home test kits will be analysed at SYNLAB’s newly opened accredited private laboratory in Taunton.

Bristol Airport chief operating officer Graeme Gamble, pictured, said: “We are delighted to be working with SYNLAB, who are able to provide our customers with a first-class Covid-19 testing locally and at an affordable price.

“The test will provide extra confidence for our customers knowing that, following their return to England, their quarantine period may be reduced. 

“We want the testing process to be as stress free as possible for our customers and have therefore arranged for customers to take the test in the comfort of their own home, reducing the inconvenience of needing to travel to a testing facility.”

SYNLAB UK & Ireland chief medical officer Dr David James added: “We are very pleased to have been chosen as one of the approved providers of the government’s Test to Release scheme and look forward to offering Bristol Airport customers our Covid-19 PCR testing service.

“By opting into the scheme, Bristol Airport customers can be assured of a high-quality, reliable, clinically led laboratory test.

“SYNLAB has been supporting Covid-19 testing from the outset of the pandemic and has played a significant role in testing ever since, through our partnerships with both the NHS and private organisations.

“Our new testing facility at Taunton enables us to provide additional private testing capacity in the UK to support airports and their customers.”

The boost for the airport came as low-cost airline easyJet – its largest operator – confirmed it is to launch of new routes from Bristol to Greece next summer.

The flights to Preveza and Kos – both new routes for the airport – were due to take-off this year but were postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flights to both new destinations will operate twice a week throughout next summer, joining easyJet’s existing Greek destinations from Bristol, which include Athens, Corfu, Crete, Kefalonia, Rhodes and Zakynthos.

Bristol Airport CEO Dave Lees said: “This decision extends the route network available to customers in the region and provides even greater opportunities for customers to fly from their local airport, reducing the need to travel to other airports outside of the region. 

“The introduction of the Test to Release scheme when customers return to England possibly reducing the quarantine period, and the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme gives customers extra confidence to return to international travel.”

EasyJet UK country manager Ali Gayward added: “In anticipation that demand for travel will return – and having recently seen signs of growing confidence by our customers in making plans for travel next spring and summer – we are delighted to confirm the launch of these new routes from Bristol next summer, providing even more choice for customers to book a trip to look forward to.

“Returning customer momentum is supported by the welcome news of the vaccination roll out, which will enable normal life to resume; including travelling again for work, to visit friends and family, or for a much-needed holiday.”

Flights to Kos start on March 29 and Preveza on 2 May 2021. EasyJet flies to more than 70 destinations from Bristol – more than half the airport’s total – using its 17 aircraft based there.

Last month Jet2, the UK’s third largest airline, announced it is to start flying from Bristol for the first time and will launch flights to 33 destination next year, including Kalamata and Lesvos in Greece.

In October Britain’s biggest tour operator Tui said Greece was the ‘standout’ destination based on bookings from Bristol for next summer.

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