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Covid testing could add 160% to the price of a holiday, finds study

Helen Coffey
·2-min read
<p>Heathrow airport testing centre</p> (Heathrow Airport/Collinson)

Heathrow airport testing centre

(Heathrow Airport/Collinson)

Compulsory Covid-19 testing could increase the cost of a holiday by up to 160 per cent, according to new research.

The study, conducted on behalf of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) and based on modelling by Oxera and Edge Health, analysed the cost of testing on five “typical” itineraries, including return trips from the UK to Spain, New York and the Canary Islands.

Based on the routes studied, the modelling suggested that the huge cost impact of PCR testing would reduce demand for travel “by an average of 65 per cent”.

A family of four would potentially pay an additional £1,600 in testing costs for their holiday to Spain if the country is put on the UK government’s amber list (requiring travellers to take a rapid antigen or lateral flow test prior to departing for the UK; take two PCR tests on arrival; and quarantine for 10 days).

For those travelling London-Frankfurt, the price of travel would increase by up to 143 per cent with compulsory testing.

Long-haul routes London-New York and London-Singapore were more expensive and therefore the testing costs as a percentage of the overall travel price was lower, but nevertheless added on 11 and 18 per cent respectively.

The report suggested that swapping PCR tests for cheaper antigen tests would reduce the negative impact on demand for travel by 35 per cent.

Iata director general Willie Walsh said: “Studies show that antigen tests can be as effective as PCR tests.

“By mandating PCR testing unnecessarily the Government forces consumers to pay high prices for testing, often to companies who are exploiting the heath crisis with the excessive fees they charge.

“On top of this, the government rubs salt in the wounds of consumers by charging VAT on these rip-off fees.”

It follows research from Which? that found testing requirements could add almost £1,500 onto a family holiday this summer.

The consumer champion found that the cost of multiple tests, both pre-departure and when returning to the UK, could add an extra £1,480 onto a trip to Greece for a family of four.

This holiday would likely require five tests in total: a PCR test before you arrive, a free test on day seven if you stay for a week or more, a rapid antigen test to return to the UK and a package of two PCR tests once back in the UK.

The average cost of a private PCR test in the UK is £120; the rapid antigen test will cost around £60; and the two-test PCR package upon return to the UK is priced at £190: a total of £370 per person.

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