Düsseldorf/Frankfurt It is meant to take away passenger fears of contracting coronavirus aboard an aircraft and in effect, help revive the airline industry. Lufthansa has already begun with rapid testing before some flights and Eurowings plans to follow.
On Thursday, Lufthansa began administering a COVID-19 rapid test to passengers of some flights from Hamburg to Munich. Now the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings is preparing for a similar procedure in Düsseldorf. Responding to an inquiry, the airline company provided the information to our editorial team.
Already in the coming weeks, travelers are to be tested before takeoff to one of the vacation destinations that are still possible. They will also be tested before the return flight. Alternatively, passengers would be able to submit a negative COVID-19 test taken within the past 48 hours. The aim of the testing is to spare tourists possible quarantines at their destination. It would also ensure that they would not be likely to become infected on the flight since all passengers would be tested.
A large tourism company is to be a partner in the project. The destination in question is probably the Canary Islands, according to industry experts, because there are remarkably few cases of coronavirus in this popular winter destination. If the offer is well received, it will be expanded from Eurowings' main location in Düsseldorf to other NRW airports such as Cologne-Bonn. "We want to take away people's worries before they travel," said a Eurowings manager to our editorial department, "and such rapid tests could well contribute to this.
Düsseldorf Airport explained that they are working together with partners to evaluate the introduction of rapid tests. These could be "building blocks to revive air traffic.” But the airport pointed out that there was already a corona testing center at the airport. There, travelers can find out the results after about 24 hours. In the case of a rapid test, a result should be available after about 30 minutes. Cologne-Bonn Airport also intends to use the idea. A spokesperson explained: "It is important to integrate these rapid tests firmly into the test strategy as quickly as possible in order to shorten quarantine times and relieve the burden on laboratories.”
The background to the discussion is the decline in air traffic by more than 80 percent since the corona rates have started rising again throughout Europe. Airlines have also noticed that, despite good filter systems, many people are worried about getting infected on board the aircraft.
The international aviation association IATA is calling for rapid tests at airports worldwide to save the industry.
(Orig. text: Reinhard Kowalewsky. Translation: ck)