Lufthansa to offer free pre-flight Covid-19 tests in Germany

German airline giant Lufthansa will soon start the first trial run to test all passengers for the coronavirus before their flight takes off.

Lufthansa to offer free pre-flight Covid-19 tests in Germany

Starting next Thursday November 12th, all passengers on individual flights between Munich and Hamburg will be able to take a rapid antigen test free of charge, the company announced Friday in Frankfurt. 

READ ALSO: Explained: How and when can I receive a Covid-19 test in Germany?

Alternatively, passengers could present a negative PCR test that is no more than 48 hours old, or be transferred to another flight free of charge. The test results should be available after 30 to 60 minutes.

According to Lufthansa's CEO Carsten Spohr, the company has purchased 250,000 antigen tests to study the processes. The airline hopes that the rapid tests will enable it to offer more flight connections again, especially overseas. 

“Successful testing of entire flights can be the key to reviving international air traffic,” said Board member Christina Foerster. 

In the Lufthansa Group, the rapid tests have already been tested on flights of the subsidiary Austrian airlines between Berlin and Vienna.

Spohr said he was convinced that the pharmaceutical industry could quickly supply much larger quantities of the rapid tests than has been the case so far.

Antigen tests provide faster, but so far less accurate results than PCR tests.

Lufthansa on Thursday posted a third quarter net loss of €2 billion as it prepares for a “hard and challenging” winter amid lockdowns to curb the coronavirus pandemic, said Spohr.

Europe's largest airline said it will fly a maximum of 25 percent of normal capacity from October to December and expects to burn through €350 million in cash a month.


trial run – (der) Probelauf

alternatively – ersatzweise

present/produce something – vorlegen

rebook/change a booking – umbuchen

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant