Lufthansa sees airport testing as a way forward

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Lufthansa's in-airport Covid testing. The airline is testing thousands of people in Frankfurt airport alone.
Lufthansa's in-airport Covid testing. The airline is testing thousands of people in Frankfurt airport alone. Photo Credit: Lufthansa

Lufthansa is incorporating Covid-19 testing into its premium program for first class and business class flyers.

The carrier already offers a separate line for premium flyers at its testing facilities in the Frankfurt and Munich airports. But Bjoern Becker, Lufthansa's senior director of product management, ground and digital services, also envisions giving high-ticket travelers the first access to quick-result antigen tests once the carrier begins using them.

Lufthansa is currently testing thousands of people per day in Frankfurt airport alone, Becker said during a virtual press conference Tuesday. Right now, Lufthansa offers only viral polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests; 60% of the results are to be delivered within 12 hours and all results are to be delivered within 24 hours.

However, it plans to also begin offering rapid antigen tests, which test for proteins on the surface of the virus. Though less accurate than PCR tests, antigen tests can provide results within 15 minutes. Such quick feedback could be especially convenient for international travelers.

Becker said that he could foresee the carrier initially offering the tests only to premium customers. Then, as antigen testing capacity it scaled up, the carrier would offer antigen tests to everyone.  

Ultimately, he said, Lufthansa hopes that antigen testing will enable international protocols in which Covid-19 testing requirements replace quarantines and closed borders.

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