Travel tests cost five times the price of round-trip flights to Europe, study finds

Covid tests can cost up to five times the price of round-trip flights to Europe, new research shows.

The study, conducted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation, looked at the costs of round-trip flights to 20 Amber and Green List countries between August 24 and September 4.

Comparing these prices to the average cost of a single Covid-19 PCR test, MEPs found that the Covid tests are more than five times more expensive than return flights from Exeter Airport to Alicante and from there. East Midlands Airport in Barcelona.

Ryanair offered fares of £ 18 on both routes, while the average cost for a government approved PCR test is £ 93.

The test costs considered by MPs did not include the mandatory pre-departure test for all passengers boarding flights to the UK, nor the additional eighth day test required for unvaccinated travelers returning from countries in the UK. orange list.

The total cost of the Covid tests is therefore likely to be higher than that published in the Future of Aviation study.

MP Henry Smith, Chairman of the Future of Aviation Group, said:

“These numbers demonstrate that testing for international travel has become little more than a tax on travel, adding a huge drag on travel, putting a massive drag on the capacity of our aviation industry, travel and transportation. tourism to recover from the pandemic.

“When the cost of testing may be more than the price of a ticket, it is clear that the current system is not fit for purpose and needs urgent reform to stop the scam fees we are seeing now. . “

He called on the government to switch to lateral flow testing by default for travelers returning from low-risk countries, with PCR tests only used after a positive test.

PCR tests are currently the only ones accepted upon their return to the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended their continued use during a visit to Scotland last week, insisting current levels of testing were ‘sensitive’ and urging the public to be patient.

Mr Smith also wants the government to cap the total cost of testing in order to “prevent the free that we are seeing now which leads to price scams.”

PCR test providers on the government website charge up to £ 399 per test, with more moderately advertised prices often increasing once customers click to book.

Mr Smith continued, “Without serious reform, testing risks not only turning off travelers, but also delaying the recovery of our aviation industry after the pandemic.

“It is high time the government tackled this problem and put an end to this unnecessary and damaging travel tax.”

The publication of this research follows news earlier in the week that Health Secretary Sajid Javid has asked the Market and Competition Authority’s watchdog to determine whether travelers are being ripped off by test providers.

Avi Lasarow of Project Screen by Prenetics, one of the government approved providers of Covid-19 travel tests, said: “We support the government’s decision to refer the issue of PCR testing to the Competition Authority and steps.

“Companies on the government list must be responsible in their pricing strategies.

“The list has been exploited by some test providers luring consumers in with deceptive prices, then offering tests up to nine times the price and poor service.”

He called on the government to cut VAT on Covid-19 travel tests, stressing that if the tax was removed a family of four flying from London to Mallorca could save £ 166.