Virgin Atlantic is trialling crew Covid tests on some flights from Heathrow, aiming to screen all cabin and flight deck employees at least once a month.
Cabin and flight deck staff on services to Shanghai and Hong Kong are being given tests said to be 97% sensitive to the virus and which produce results “within 30 minutes”.
The airline said it planned to extend testing to services to Barbados and others throughout October.
Corneel Koster, the airline’s chief customer and operating officer, said: “This trial is a first step in our phased plan to introduce regular testing for all of our teams in the air and on the ground, in order to instill confidence in flying.
“However, we continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime. We need urgent action from UK and US governments to introduce pre-departure testing, to remove the need for quarantine and to minimise travel restrictions, while protecting public health and half a million UK jobs associated with the sector.
“As long as the UK’s 14 day quarantine is in place, demand for travel will not return and the UK’s economic recovery, which relies on free flowing trade and tourism, cannot take off.”
Virgin Atlantic also offers complimentary Covid-19 global insurance cover for all passengers. It applies to all existing and new bookings, travelling until 31 March 2021.