PCR Covid test cost cut to £60 at Gatwick – but no guarantee on timing

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Departure check: the PCR test will be at the South Terminal long-term car park (Gatwick Airport)
Departure check: the PCR test will be at the South Terminal long-term car park (Gatwick Airport)

As an increasing number of countries demand pre-flight Covid tests from travellers, the UK’s leading holiday airport has dramatically cut the cost of a PCR test.

From 30 November, passengers booked to fly from Gatwick airport can obtain a test for just £60 – less than half the prevailing rate. NHS tests cannot be used for trips abroad.

The Sussex airport is subsiding the cost for travellers with bookings as well as on-airport staff. The general public is also able to avail of the facility, but must pay £99.

The screening, in conjunction with ExpressTest, will take place within the airport’s Long Stay Car Park at the South Terminal.

But crucially, holidaymakers will not be able to test shortly before departure because the tests take at least 24 hours to analyse. In addition, the firm is making no guarantees.

For the Canary Islands, which will become the main destination from Gatwick once England’s lockdown is lifted on 3 December, tests must be taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. For a noon arrival on that date, the test must have been taken no earlier than noon on 30 November.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive at Gatwick, said: “Reducing the spread of Covid-19 is a priority for us alongside giving confidence to so many people who have missed travelling during this difficult year.

“Our new screening facility is also a convenient service to offer people in the region looking for extra reassurance. We are pleased to be subsidising the price for our passengers and any staff based at Gatwick so they are compliant with current destination requirements that many of airlines including easyJet, British Airways and TUI fly to.

“Our industry has been decimated by the pandemic and, while we welcome the anticipated ‘test and release’ scheme from the Government, we want to see an internationally agreed pre-departure testing regime, based on existing risk criteria, to replace the current uncertainty of quarantine and patchwork of testing approaches which currently exists across Europe.

“A truly international approach would safely open up most of the UK’s travel routes abroad, while also helping to reduce transmission of the virus.”

The founder of ExpressTest, Nick Markham, said: “We are delighted to be Gatwick airport’s official screening partner.

“In the next couple of months we aim to have more than 30 locations operating across the UK, with the ambition of giving the British public the confidence to go about their daily lives in these uncertain times.”

Anyone with recognisable Covid-19 symptoms will still need to use an NHS testing facility.

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