Covid testing ‘could hike travel costs by 160%’

More than half of travellers would be priced out of holidays to popular  destinations such as the Canary islands even with cheaper Covid tests, new research reveals.

The study for Iata found that testing could raise the cost of travel by as much as 160%.

The modelling by economics and health experts Oxera and Edge Health reported by The Telegraph worked out the costs of testing on five “typical” routes including UK to New York, Frankfurt and Singapore for business, UK-Pakistan for family and UK-Canaries for holidays.

MoreCost of PCR tests expected to drop by May 17

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With the current ‘gold standard’ PCR testing regime that would apply to potential amber risk countries like Spain, a family of four would have to take 16 tests at a potential cost of £1,600 – more than doubling the travel bill to £2,600 and adding 32% to the £3,950 price of a holiday.

On the London-Frankfurt route, testing would increase the cost of travel by between 57% and 143% depending on whether PCR or antigen tests were used.

The cost of testing is a lower proportion of the fare on long-haul routes such as London-New York and UK-Singapore, given the higher business class fares on these routes – but it would still add 11% and 18% respectively.

The report said: “The modelling shows that based on five routes studied, the cost impact of PCR testing will reduce demand by an average of 65%.

“Replacing PCR with antigen testing would still have a cost impact on demand, but at 30%.”

Iata director general Willie Walsh said: “Studies show that antigen tests can be as effective as PCR tests.

“By mandating PCR testing unnecessarily the Government forces consumers to pay high prices for testing, often to companies who are exploiting the heath crisis withthe excessive fees they charge.

On top of this, the government rubs salt in the wounds of consumers by charging VAT on these rip-off fees.”

Meanwhile, Iata warned that lengthy UK Border checks could pose a “major risk” for international travel recovery.

As part of its preparations for re-opening the UK to international travel from 17 May.

The airline association called on the UK government to accelerate its efforts to digitalise the current paper-based system used to manage passengers test and vaccine certificates.

Iata said: “When international travel ramps up from 17 May it’s critical that passengers are not left queuing for hours for the manual checking of vaccine and testing certificates.

“Even with limited traffic there are already reports of lengthy waits at UK Border checkpoints. This compromises social distancing measures and passenger welfare.

“With just over a month to go, it is urgent that agreement is reached on what digital systems will be accepted, trials are conducted to ensure their smooth implementation, and communication programmes reach travellers who will need to arrive at the airport prepared. There is no time to lose.”

MoreCost of PCR tests expected to drop by May 17

EasyJet chief calls for cut in PCR test costs to £30

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