Covid-testing firms must be up to scratch ahead of holiday rush

·2-min read
<p>A passenger wearing a Union Flag face mask waits in the North Terminal to board one of the few flights departing at Gatwick Airport </p> (Getty)

A passenger wearing a Union Flag face mask waits in the North Terminal to board one of the few flights departing at Gatwick Airport

(Getty)

An urgent review of Covid-19 testing firms will take place in a last-gasp attempt to prevent travel chaos this summer, according to reports.

Covid testing companies joined for a video call amid UK Government fears they will not cope with demand as travel restrictions ease.

According to The Times, companies were asked about their capacity and told they face being dropped from government lists if they fail to meet targets such as ensuring customers complete tests on time after returning from abroad.

As many as 68,000 arrivals per day are expected in a surge in holiday bookings with non-essential travel to some countries returning from Monday.

It comes as British Airways will become the world’s first airline to trial a coronavirus test which produces results within 25 seconds.

BA said the test correctly identifies 98 per cent of people who have Covid-19, and 100 per cent of those who do not.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the airline is “committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again”.

A competition watchdog has also warned package holiday firms to respect the refund rights of holidaymakers ahead of the summer period.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has written an open letter to the sector to remind firms of their legal obligations and of the need to ensure refund options are clear and accessible.

It is sending a copy directly to the 100 package travel companies that have attracted the most complaints.

Since March 2020, the CMA has received more than 23,000 complaints from consumers about refund issues relating to package holidays that could not go ahead due to the pandemic.

Previous CMA action against five major package travel companies provided more than £200 million in refunds for customers.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “With international travel set to resume, we must not see a repeat of the fiasco that took place last year, which saw some travel firms break the law by withholding refunds from customers for months after their trips were cancelled.

“Travellers considering a holiday this year should only book with companies that guarantee in their flexible booking terms that they will be able to give full refunds if a country is moved from the green list to amber, or if lockdowns, quarantine or other disruption prevents them from travelling.”

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