Heathrow is to trial temperature screening passengers, a move aimed at reducing the risk of passengers contracting or transmitting Covid-19 while travelling.

The measure was deployed by many other major airports around the world several weeks ago and Heathrow has been criticised for not introducing screening earlier.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said it will trial technologies and processes which could form the basis of a common international standard for health screening at airports in a bid to encourage passengers to return to flying.

The first trial will be launched in the next two weeks and will involve using cameras which are capable of monitoring the temperatures of people.

Cameras will initially be used in the airport’s immigration halls, but could be deployed in areas for departures, connections and airport staff searches.

The thermal image screening could become the standard at all airports. Credit: PA

The airline industry has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic as travel ground to a half with many around the world struggling to survive as passenger number tumble.

On Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic announced it was laying off a third of its workforce, offloading 737s and pulling out of Gatwick Airport amid the ongoing crisis.

The news came a week after British Airways said it was set to make up to 12,000 workers redundant.

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The airline also indicated it may pull out of Gatwick, the UK’s second busiest airport, even after borders reopen. A peak times of the year BA operates 180 flights a day, accounting for one in five flights.

Budget airline Ryanair said itexpects to cut 3,000 jobs, including pilots and cabin crew, from its workforce.

The airline said its flights will remain grounded until “at least July” and passenger numbers will not return to 2019 levels “until summer 2022 at the earliest”.

Passengers arriving back at Heathrow at the beginning of April. Credit: PA

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Aviation is the cornerstone of the UK economy, and to restart the economy the Government needs to help restart aviation.

“The UK has the world’s third-largest aviation sector, offering the platform for the Government to take a lead in agreeing a common international standard for aviation health with our main trading partners.

“This standard is key to minimising transmission of Covid-19 across borders, and the technology we are trialling at Heathrow could be part of the solution.”

Heathrow is also considering the use of UV light to quickly sanitise security trays, and contact-free security screening equipment.

The airport pledged to share data from its trials with the Government and the rest of the aviation industry to help develop the common standard it is seeking.

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