Beginning Nov. 12, Lufthansa is launching a pilot COVID-19 testing program on selected flights between Munich and Hamburg. The carrier will test passengers free of charge on two daily flights (one in either direction) using COVID-19 antigen rapid tests, with the aim of ensuring “100 per cent negative passengers” on those services.
The airline says customers will receive test results within 30 to 60 minutes, or passengers can present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure.
According to Lufthansa, “only on presentation of a negative test will the boarding pass be activated and access to the gate be granted.” Customers who decline to be tested “will be transferred to an alternative flight at no additional cost,” the airline says.
In September, the carrier had announced an ambitious program of offering rapid preflight testing, limited to its business and first class passengers because of lack of availability. The launch of complimentary preflight testing to all passengers on the MUC-HAM flights will be used to gather data about the efficacy of a preflight testing program, the carrier says.
The testing program is being done in partnership with Munich and Hamburg airports, biotech company Centogene, and the Medicover Group’s medical care center, MVZ Martinsried.
Lufthansa says the entire testing procedure will be complimentary, “with no hidden or extra costs for the passenger,” adding that “passengers are simply required to register in advance and allow a little more time before departure”.
“With our test strategy, we are pursuing the goal of using the data obtained to gain important insights into the use of rapid tests,” said Christina Foerster, Lufthansa Group executive board member for customer, IT and corporate responsibility. “Successful testing of entire flights can be the key to revitalizing international air traffic.”
Preflight testing for COVID-19 has gained attention in the aviation industry of late as a means of relaunching air travel, with a number of carriers worldwide offering rapid tests results to contain the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile American Airlines has recently announced an expansion of its testing program in the Caribbean and Latin America.