Test to release is “a stepping stone” but potentially "poor value", an airline trade body chief has said.
The government’s list of test to release approved providers is made up of companies offering PCR tests, with prices from £89 to £180. PCR tests take a minimum 24 hours to complete.
Testing is designed to cut the 10-day period of isolation to five, but the length of time needed to get results means this could extend longer.
Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, said there remained an issue over the cost and time needed to conduct the tests.
“The issue is with PCR tests, realistically, you are looking at day seven or eight. Where is the value for the consumer?”
Speaking during Aito’s Virtual Conference, he said: “I think we have a stepping stone here,” adding that some big vaccine providers were not yet on the government’s list.
“What we do want from testing is the confidence to book from the spring and next summer. But in terms of travelling in two weeks’ time, no, it’s not looking good.”
Keller went on to outline how the industry would look in 2021. He said he thought airlines with robust balance sheets would seek market share next year.
“We will see the same with destinations; they will scoop up a huge majority of passengers. We are going to have unbelievable change like we have never seen before.”
Aito director Noel Josephides said growth from airlines would run counter to the rest of the market.
“For most of us, our businesses will be much smaller next year. Ryanair is saying we will see several years of discounting, which will help nobody, and Wizz is flexing its muscles to grow market share.
“If I was the government, I would say, if you are worried about carbon emissions, why not cut capacity rather than fill all those aircraft?”
He said the government had sent a signal to airlines by refusing to reduce APD.
“The message is we all need to make a bit more money, rather than fill aircraft with high loads achieved by seats sold for next to nothing.”
He said a return to growth by carriers would fuel overcapacity and discounting as seen in 2019. “My worry is that our approach as an industry is not changing.”