Lufthansa to start pre-flight "rapid COVID testing" next month

New antigen tests could initially be offered to Lufthansa's first class and business class passengers.

By David Flynn, September 23 2020
Lufthansa to start pre-flight

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."

Abbott Laboratories' rapid COVID test kit uses a card the size of a boarding pass stub.
Abbott Laboratories' rapid COVID test kit uses a card the size of a boarding pass stub.

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."

Also read: Qantas CEO says rapid preflight COVID tests could restart overseas travel


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

How long will it be for an asymptomatic infected person passes the test but spreads the bug. A public relations nightmare when the contact tracers trace it back to Lufthansa accepting the test to allow infected people to fly.

05 Feb 2020

Total posts 30

Patrick, where I am in the US we have kids getting on school busses every day, playing sport freely, I went to the cinema last weekend with social distancing guidelines in place etc. etc. Life is moving along so why the stigma re aircraft flights.

I think the testing is a great idea and ideas like this will see it become more common to have the test kits available to everyone in the future. It would be great to have a few around the house just for screening here and there with the family.

If governments can feel more secure and dump the 2 weeks quarantine period and open the gates to flights in a measured way  it would make a massive difference not only to the aviation industry and tourism, but also to ease interstate boarder closures as well, especially for the nanny states in Australia.

The world needs clever thinking  and ideas to gets things moving again and this idea from Lufthansa is a great example of coming up with ideas on how it can be done. Much better than Qantas mothballing its fleet and giving up early.

What happens if an "effective" quarantine isnt devoloped for some time, maybe years. How long can countries afford to hide in the closet, fearful of moving on. 


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

Brett what you say about being able to out and about is the case for most of Australia. Like most places we have regional lockdowns. Melbourne is a bit like Manchester in the UK and a rapidly increasing number of other European cities. I can now fly to most places so not much stigma with flying  The issue with the Lufthansa test is that it only is 97% accurate with those with symptoms, which is usually asked at check in. It is a good double check but certainly won’t screen out infectious people. That test is brilliant for a hospital emergency department to sort out what to do with people with coughs sore throat etc. and yes great at home for coughs etc. better than a thermometer and the finger tip oxygen saturation test. As long as people can understand it. 

One World

31 Mar 2020

Total posts 13

What a great idea, let them start it soon.

08 May 2020

Total posts 87

Certified Pre Test 72 hours prior travel and rapid test on arrival or Test with 3 Day Quarantine on arrival should be a new form complete with the traveller required to run daily Log for 10 Days. 


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

Pete that sounds good. The 10 day log is on an app and if entries missed or fibs told a big fat fine. Travellers from places with chronically high cases such  as the UK, US or India do an additional week or so quarantine or have a tracker on.

26 Sep 2020

Total posts 13

What does anyone know about the trials with dogs sniffing for Covid-19? The trials have been underway for some months and according to ABC Radio this morning, they could be operating in December 2020.

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