German airline Lufthansa announced this week that it will start offering rapid coronavirus tests to passengers in October.
The company’s senior director of product management, Bjoern Becker, said on Tuesday that the new antigen tests would initially only be available to first-class and business-class passengers because supplies are limited, according to Reuters.
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Becker noted that the company also plans to open test sites at airports in the United States and Canada.
While some airports have offered rapid tests, major airlines have not.
Rapid antigen tests are inexpensive to produce, but generally less accurate than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and can produce false negatives.
The United States Food and Drug Administration guidelines state that all negative results of antigen tests must be confirmed by a PCR test.
While the travel industry has suffered greatly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, industry workers hope rapid pre-flight testing will provide some peace of mind and an alternative to two weeks of isolation .
On Tuesday, the International Air Transport Association called for quick and affordable testing for all passengers.
“Quarantine measures are killing the recovery of the industry,” said CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “Some 83% of travelers in a recent survey of 11 markets said they would not travel if there was a chance of being quarantined at their destination. This is a very clear signal that this industry will not recover until we find an alternative to quarantine. ”
De Juniac added that public opinion polls show a majority of potential passengers are willing to undergo testing as part of the process.
“The speed at which testing capabilities are advancing tells us that we will have deployable options in the coming weeks,” he said, telling reporters that common standards and practices at all levels are needed to “strengthen Confidence as horror stories continue to emerge about a woman who fell ill at 15 in a London-Vietnam flight and a Greece-Wales flight that forced nearly 200 people in quarantine.
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Thousands of people may have been exposed to COVID-19 from airplanes, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.