Gatwick boss calls for compulsory coronavirus test for passengers 48 hours before they fly

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GATWICK, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 09: An empty Gatwick south terminal is seen on April 09, 2020 in Gatwick, United Kingdom. There have been around 60,000 reported cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United Kingdom and 7,000 deaths. The country is in its third week of lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
An empty Gatwick south terminal during the lockdown (Picture: Getty)

Passengers should be tested for coronavirus 48 hours before they board a flight once the lockdown is lifted, the Gatwick Airport boss has said.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate hopes "health passports" which prove travellers are not infected with the virus will help jump-start the air industry.

He has also suggested all passengers wear face masks during flights.

Mr Wingate told The Times: "Whether these tests should be carried out in the airports or whether they would be better carried out in the communities are things that should be debated.

"For example, would it be better for a passenger to arrive at an airport with some sort of certification that said 'I have been checked over the last 48 hours and I am Covid-free?'”

Read more: UK death toll passes 20,000 after another 813 people die

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Chief Executive Officer of Gatwick Airport Stewart Wingate arrives at Portcullis House in central London on January 7, 2014 to face questions from the Parliamentary Transport Committee on transport winter resilience following weather disruption to the airport over the Christmas period.  AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL        (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport Stewart Wingate (Picture: Getty)
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The government is currently looking at ways social distancing could be maintained when air travel resumes, according to the Times.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed on Friday ministers were constantly reviewing rules on allowing passengers to enter the country without screenings.

Last week 15,000 passengers a day flew into the UK without any checks for coronavirus.

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Meanwhile, Gatwick has warned it could take up to four years for the demand for flights to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The West Sussex airport said it expects post-COVID-19 passenger numbers “will return to recent levels within 36 to 48 months”.

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Read more: NHS doctor urges stop stealing from hospitals during coronavirus pandemic

The airport has taken a series of measures “to enable a quick recovery of the business”.

These include securing a £300 million loan from a consortium of banks, not paying a dividend this year, temporarily closing one of its two terminals and restricting scheduled flights to a daily eight-hour period.

More than 90% of eligible staff have been furloughed and investment has been deferred.

Airlines have grounded most of their planes due to travel restrictions and a collapse in demand caused by the virus.

The Government could buy into UK airlines struggling due to the collapse in demand for air travel.

Shapps told MPs that nothing had been ruled out in the response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a summary of a Transport Select Committee hearing published on Friday.

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