The airline will now be testing its staff on-site at its Heathrow base, before they board their flights.
The tests are part of a trial in partnership with GeneMe UK, and will see a swab taken on site, with the results processed and delivered within 30 minutes. Cabin crew and pilots will receive their results through the Yoti app which is integrated into the system.
The airline launched the trial on flights from London Heathrow to Shanghai and Hong Kong late September, and says it plans to extend these trials to services to Barbados as well as a few other select flights in October.
There are plans for a wider roll out which would see every member of operating crew tested at least once a month.
The new testing comes alongside a host of new measures the airline has introduced during the pandemic.
These include enhanced cleaning measures and disinfecting the aircraft before each flight, as well as packs given to customers which include medical grade face masks, hand sanitizer and surface wipes.
Cornell Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer at Virgin Atlantic, explained that the company is looking at various technologies to find ‘the best solution possible’ when it comes to testing for Covid-19, but stressed that the company was “absolutely ensuring that we do not compete with the NHS for vital resources”.
He also called on the UK and US governments to introduce pre-departure testing as a way of removing a need for quarantine, or changes in travel restrictions.
He said in a statement: “This trial is a first step in our phased plan to introduce regular testing for all of our teams in the air and on the ground, in order to instil confidence in flying.
“However, we continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime.
“We need urgent action from UK and US governments to introduce pre departure testing, to remove the need for quarantine and to minimise travel restrictions, while protecting public health and half a million UK jobs associated with the sector.
“As long as the UK’s 14 day quarantine is in place, demand for travel will not return and the UK’s economic recovery, which relies on free flowing trade and tourism, cannot take off.”