“I would love to have a New York–London pilot up and running by Thanksgiving,” he told Travel Weekly.
“That seems entirely feasible.”
He added: “There is consensus that testing is the answer to getting people flying, that testing before departure is the better way of doing it and that we need a common international standard.”
Heathrow started rapid Covid testing trials in August, the findings of which are now being shared with and assessed by government officials.
Airport executives, along with much of the aviation industry, hope that testing could replace the blanket two-week quarantine policy that is currently in place for the majority of all arrivals into the UK, including those from the US.
At the moment, the government line is that there is no fail-safe alternative to self-isolation.
Holland-Kaye said he has received indications that government talks on testing could start by the second half of October.
Part of the resistance with replacing quarantine with testing is the potential for travellers to receive a false negative result depending on what stage of the infection they are at.
For example, one John Hopkins study found that testing people for the virus too early in the course of infection was likely to result in a false negative test.
The researchers estimated that those tested with SARS-CoV-2 in the four days after infection were 67 per cent more likely to test negative, even if they had the virus. When the average patient began displaying symptoms of the virus, the false-negative rate was still 38 per cent.
Heathrow executives are suggesting testing could be combined with a shorter quarantine period.
“We’ve proposed two things: a shorter quarantine on arrival followed by a test after five or seven days for people from high-risk countries, [and] a pilot on the New York-London route with testing before people get on a plane,” said Holland-Kaye.
It follows attempts by other countries’ aviation industries to introduce rapid testing in a bid to ease travel restrictions.