19 OCTOBER 2020


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Article from BTNews 19 OCTOBER 2020

A Heathrow test flight

United Airlines is expected this week to operate a scheduled flight from Heathrow to New York Newark with a number of volunteer passengers taking part in what is termed “The Common Pass System”, World Economic Forum sponsored.

Using the departure facility already set up by the airport in conjunction with handling company Swissport and London-based international travel services organisation Collinson these travellers will need to take a test up to 72 hours before travel, and the information logged on a smartphone app via a QR code.  There will be no need for multiple separate documents.

Staff from the US Customs and Border Protection agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are said to monitoring the project but at the same time a Presidential Proclamation bans foreign nationals who have been in Europe (including the UK) within the last 14 days from entering the country.  That leaves only US citizens (and those with dual nationalities) plus connecting travellers originating from countries deemed OK, able to participate.

The US – Canada border is planned to re-open on 21 October but that now seems unlikely with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pouring cold water on the idea. Bloomberg quotes Trudeau as telling a Winnipeg radio station: “We have committed to keeping Canadians safe and we keep extending the border closures because the States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders.”

In the UK the Government is due to report on an airport arrivals testing scheme in early November (see Airport testing scheme BTN 12 October).

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Jeff Singer, New York

This report does not sound positive. What happens if we have a new President elect in 2 weeks time?