Zurich and LAX join airports around the world to bring Covid testing labs on-site in order to speed up the delivery of results for flyers. Olivia Palamountain reports

Zurich airport and Los Angeles International (LAX) are the latest flight hubs to open Covid testing labs, joining the likes of Heathrow (home to the UK’s largest private Covid-19 testing facility, with 24 lanes open 365 days a year), Boston Logan, Dublin, Frankfurt and Hong Kong amongst others.

Since the start of January, Zurich airport has been working with Swissport subsidiary Checkport Schweiz AG to operate a pre-departure testing facility that uses Enders Diagnostics’ PCR tests, carried out by saliva sample rather than the dreaded nasal swab. Swissport also operates a pre-departure testing facility at Heathrow airport.

This form of test allows for a speedier return of results, with the passenger informed within five hours rather than the usual 24-48 hour timeframe with alternative PCR tests.Zurich Airport test centre lobby
No medical personnel are required as tests are administered by passengers themselves in dedicated booths, which they will then clean themselves after use, assures the airport. The samples are then transported to the Swiss Analysis AG laboratory four times a day by courier service.

The facility is located on the first floor of Zurich airport’s check-in 2, and is open daily from 6am-8pm. Note that test samples delivered after 5pm are processed the following morning.

The self-test kits cost SFr195 (approximately €180) and are sold on site, with no prior appointment necessary.

Commenting on the launch of the testing facility, David Steffen, managing director of Checkport Schweiz AG, says: “We are pleased to partner with Ender Diagnostics for the Covid-19 rapid testing center at Zurich airport.

“Passengers traveling to countries that require proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure now enjoy a simpler pre-departure procedure. Our new service brings great relief to air travel. We are convinced it will help motivate people to return to flying.”

In Los Angeles, LAX now offers rapid onsite Covid-19 PCR screening from US$125 at three locations around the airport, building on its previous testing facility that returned results in 24-48 hours. A rapid antigen test option was scheduled to open at the end of January.Covid lab LAXThe primary lab and collection site, which is in the open air and is built from modular shipping containers, is located across from Terminal 6 on the Lower/Arrivals level. It returns results between 8am and 6pm in three to five hours, and can process some 1,000 tests per day.

Two further locations (in the Tom Bradley International Terminal on the Upper/Departures level at the check-in counters located in Aisle C, and in Terminal 2’s Lower/Arrivals Level baggage claim area) claim to return results in “under 24 hours”, and operate between 8am and 7pm.

Pre-scheduled appointments are recommended at all locations, although “some walk-up appointments may be available at the in-terminal locations based on demand”.

Customers will receive an itemised receipt, which can be submitted to insurance providers for reimbursement where tests are covered by healthcare providers.

Commenting on the news Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, says: “As more destinations around the world integrate Covid-19 testing requirements for arriving passengers, and as passengers are choosing to take steps to monitor their health when flying, providing easy access to rapid testing is another way LAX can help bolster safe travel.

“In our continuous quest to innovate and reimagine the airport experience, we partnered with the private sector to design, construct and open a first-of-its-kind on-site laboratory that will provide an accessible and affordable rapid testing solution.”

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