Lufthansa plans to begin offering rapid COVID-19 tests available to passengers in October, following industry calls to kick-start demand for travel in lieu of a vaccine against the pandemic which has decimated the global aviation industry.
Antigen tests such as those developed by US-based Abbott Laboratories return a result in 15 minutes, using a disposable US$5 device the size of a credit card and a mobile app which Abbott describes as "a secure digital boarding pass that can be scanned to enter organisations and other places where people gather."
"You know that companies like Abbott or Roche are bringing these tests to the market and we are definitely looking into this," said Bjoern Becker, senior director, product management, ground & digital services for the Lufthansa Group, reports Reuters.
"You will see us applying them for new products within the next few weeks in October. That's definitely the next thing to come."
Becker said that due to limited supply of antigen testing kits, Lufthansa is considering making the tests initially available to first class and business class passengers.
Testing centres would likely be established at Lufthansa's primary hubs such as Frankfurt and Munich but also at key airports in the US and Canada, given that they are important markets, Becker added.
As previously reported, the International Air Transport Association hopes the broad availability of rapid antigen tests could make them mandatory for all travellers, in turn removing the need for quarantine periods that are currently "killing" the market, IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac this week.
"The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic COVID-19 testing of all travelers before departure," de Juniac stated.
"This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work."