Lufthansa to start rapid pre-flight coronavirus tests in Germany

A Lufthansa aircraft and an EasyJet aircraft are seen after landing at Terminal 1, marking the official opening of the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) "Willy Brandt", in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany October 31, 2020.
A Lufthansa aircraft and an EasyJet aircraft are seen after landing at Terminal 1, marking the official opening of the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) "Willy Brandt", in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany October 31, 2020.
Image: FABRIZIO BENSCH

BERLIN - Lufthansa is to start trialling rapid pre-flight coronavirus antigen tests in Germany next week, which passengers will need to pass in order to fly.

Only those testing negative or able to provide evidence of a negative test within the previous 48 hours will be allowed to board, the airline said on Friday.

The carrier will use the tests for two daily flights between Munich and Hamburg from Nov. 12 onwards to see how the test procedure can be included in the pre-flight routine.

"Successful testing of entire flights can be the key to revitalising international air traffic," said Christina Foerster, Lufthansa board member for Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility. "(We) want to gain insights into the use of rapid tests in asymptomatic groups of people."

The pandemic has pushed the global aviation industry into its worst crisis, and a recovery to 2019 levels is not expected before 2025.

Airlines worldwide are pressing governments to abandon or ease quarantines and other travel curbs that have worsened the slump, and instead roll out rapid COVID-19 testing at airports.

Antigen tests give results much faster than the widely used PCR swab tests, which are done in a laboratory, but can be less reliable.

Lufthansa's Austrian unit started trialling rapid tests last month.

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