AN ESSEX airport is now offering the full range of Covid-19 tests to passengers to help them reduce quarantine time when flying in and out of the UK.

A purpose-built test centre has been set up inside the main terminal at Stansted in an effort to reassure passengers and enable them to have easy access to tests.

Stansted's owner, Manchester Airports Group, is working with travel medical provider, Collinson, to run the private testing scheme.

Bosses say it will make travel to popular European destinations easier and more flexible.

The new scheme at Stansted comes as the nationwide ban on non-essential travel was lifted when the lockdown came to an end on December 2.

Stansted's managing director Steve Griffiths said: "As England emerges from a ban on international travel, we know our passengers are keen to start flying again, but many of Stansted’s most popular destinations require a negative test before you arrive in the country.

"This new facility will make the process of showing you’re infection-free when booking a holiday as easy and cost-effective as possible in the current circumstances. Our new booking portal makes it easy to select the right test for your destination, and at the location that is most convenient for you.

"This also means Stansted is perfectly placed to support the introduction of a UK arrivals testing regime, which will enable travellers to reduce the length of time they need to self-isolate if they test negative.

"Subject to the relevant tests securing government approval, this could free people from quarantine after just five days.

"This is the latest example of MAG leading the way as we look to work with Government and the rest of our industry to get Britain flying again."

Airport testing prices through Collinson start at £40 for Antibody tests, £50 for Antigen tests, £79 for RT-LAMP tests and £99 for RT-PCR tests.

MAG is also working with pharmacy chain Boots, which is offering discounted coronavirus tests to passengers.

The Government is set to relax its own international travel rules later this month.

From December 15, passengers arriving in the UK will be able to take a test five days after they left their destination.

If the result is negative, they can stop self-isolating.

Under the current rules, anyone returning from a country on the Government's coronavirus watch-list must automatically self-isolate for 14 days.

David Evans, joint chief exec at Collinson, said: "In order to restore confidence in travel, it is critical that travellers can navigate the many different testing regimes now required by different governments around the world.

"We were the first company to set up Covid testing facilities at a UK airport and our partnership with MAG will bring comprehensive testing facilities to Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports. This is a major step forward in opening up the UK to safe travel.

"Our new facilities will also support the UK Government’s ‘Test To Release’ programme, scheduled for launch on December 15, and are flexible enough to respond to any changing requirements or legislation from both a pre-departure and inbound testing perspective.

"Having breadth of testing capability and the flexibility to scale is critical to ensuring the aviation and travel sector can recover from this pandemic, helping to protect jobs and restore consumer confidence."