The industry has criticised the lack of action on Covid testing following transport secretary Grant Shapps’ latest announcement.
Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK said “This far into the crisis airlines expected more detail than an announcement of a new taskforce.”
Keller said the industry had been working with government since May.
“We believe that a scheme could be implemented very quickly in a matter of weeks.
“We are concerned that the Secretary of State for Transport is still quoting only 7% effectiveness of testing on arrival at airports, a figure that is wholly dismissed as flawed assumptions by the industry from overseas trials.
“If the government wants more data it should urgently take up the industry’s proposals for a trial based data-led approach to inform the taskforce and achieve the best outcomes.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association added: "The British travel industry will only survive if the task force acts swiftly. It must take concrete action to introduce testing in weeks, not months."
He said the announcement was long overdue. "The BTA has been calling for months for airport testing to be introduced."
Virgin Atlantic was more restrained in its reaction.
A spokesperson said: “We support the government’s decision to opt for a single-test, private sector-led, passenger-funded approach that does not compete for, nor divert, vital NHS testing resources, to reduce travel restrictions while protecting public health.
“But a firm commitment that a comprehensive testing regime will be implemented in November is required to boost consumer confidence, enable global travel and protect jobs.
“A test on five days, which the government’s own evidence suggests would be ‘highly effective’, must be the starting point.
“Trials between Heathrow and New York should take place in parallel to generate real world data for a pre-departure and on arrival testing approach, as well as regional mainland travel corridors, so that policy can quickly evolve.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said:
“That the Government is considering testing is a step forward but we need to see the detail.
“Ultimately we need to get to pre-departure testing for all arrivals in the UK – which is becoming the international norm – as soon as practically possible.
"Aviation is at a critical juncture and we have no time to lose, and we urge the Prime Minister to move quickly to get testing off the ground no later than the end of November so Britain does not lose further ground with its closest rivals.”