British Airways prepares for travel restart with testing kit plan

FILE PHOTO: British Airways logos are seen on tail fins at Heathrow Airport in west London

LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways has struck a deal with a COVID-19 testing kit provider as airlines prepare for the desperately-needed restart of summer travel, which is likely to include tests for passengers.

After months of lockdown, airlines hope Britain will give the go-ahead from mid-May for holidays to restart, boosting an industry whose finances have been slammed by the pandemic.

But it is not yet clear how mass foreign travel will resume. The government will provide more information on April 12.

Travel corridors, which allowed unrestricted movement between Britain and some low-risk countries, could be re-introduced, but there could also be requirements for a negative COVID-19 test before departing for abroad and arriving home.

British Airways (BA) said on Thursday its new testing deal would make it easier for travellers to take a test when abroad to fulfil any requirements for their return to Britain.

For 33 pounds ($46), its passengers can buy a testing kit which is delivered to their home before they depart. They would take the kit abroad and carry out the test there, with guidance from an adviser on a video call.

The result would be given in 20 minutes and the "fit to fly" certificate downloaded onto a customer's phone.

BA said the deal with Qured for its government-approved antigen test kits would remove uncertainty for customers unsure of where to get a test when abroad.

The 33 pound price is discounted for its customers, said BA, and compares to some alternative COVID-19 tests that can cost over 100 pounds.

"As we look forward and prepare for a safe return to travel, we remain focused on finding and offering the most convenient and affordable testing options for our customers," BA chief executive Sean Doyle said.

Travel from the United Kingdom is currently banned for all but essential reasons.

For those who do travel, there is a requirement for three COVID-19 tests: one before departure, one on day two after arrival, and one on day eight. Arrivals must also self-isolate for ten days.

($1 = 0.7178 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by Mark Potter)