Covid test should be capped at £40 to save aviation sector, claims Conservative MP

A Conservative MP has claimed there should be a price cap of £40 on private Covid tests, in a bid to save the aviation industry.

As Covid restrictions lift across the UK, potential holidaymakers considering whether to go abroad are being priced out of vacations in foreign countries due to expensive Covid tests.

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However, a watchdog looking into the prices of testing have said a review could take up to a month.

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‘Pay through the nose’

Henry Smith, chairman of the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group said the move would allow aviation to pursue “a sustainable path to recovery.”

According to the Government website, over 100 companies offering PCR tests, which are required to meet the minimum criteria expected to travel, cost £200 or more.

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For many travellers going to green-list countries, at least two tests are required to travel back into the UK. Many countries are also asking for a PCR test to be taken before travelling into their country.

Mr Smith, MP for Crawley, wrote in The Telegraph: “Every single traveller, including fully vaccinated arrivals from green countries with vanishingly low rates of Covid, are being treated as potential vectors of some dangerous new variant, and must pay through the nose for a battery of tests that on average still cost around £100 per traveller.

“How many businesses, or theatres, or restaurants, could survive if the Government slapped a £100 tax on each transaction. Very few. Yet that is what we are asking the travel sector to endure, where the costs of the mandated tests are sometimes several times the cost of the actual plane ticket.

“The real risk is that air travel becomes the preserve only of the wealthy, for whom adding £400 to the cost of a family week in Spain is no big deal. ”

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‘Save sector employment’

He added: “Government needs to build on recent progress with vaccination exemptions from quarantine by eliminating testing requirements from low-risk countries, and by capping the price of PCR tests to something like £40 – if and where they are still needed.

“The summer is almost gone, but it isn’t too late to put aviation back on a sustainable path to recovery, and save as much sector employment as possible.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has warned that companies outpricing holidaymakers could be “removed from our list of approved suppliers without hesitation.”

It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the cost of travel PCR tests, as concerns were raised over the price inflation of tests.

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CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli, replied to Mr Javid, telling him: “We are aware of concerns about the evolving markets for Covid-19 tests for international travellers, concerns about price, the quality of service people are getting from test providers and what happens when things go wrong.

“The CMA’s work throughout the pandemic has focused on protecting consumers and fair-dealing businesses and we welcome the opportunity to explore the issues in the PCR testing market in more depth.”