Austrian Airlines begins offering rapid pre-boarding COVID-19 tests

FILE PHOTO: Flight crew members of an aircraft of Lufthansa's unit Austrian Airlines are pictured ahead of take off to New York at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat

VIENNA (Reuters) – Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines is offering rapid pre-boarding coronavirus tests free to passengers on one of its routes as part of a group-wide plan to make such tests standard, the company said on Friday.

The antibody tests, which provide results within 15 minutes, will be offered to passengers on a voluntary basis before they board flights to Berlin from Vienna Airport from Friday, Austrian Airlines said.

“We must break down the borders that corona has built up in recent months,” Chief Operating Officer Jens Ritter said in the statement, which acknowledged that for the time being these tests are no substitute for the standard PCR tests required by national authorities.

“Eventually we aim to also achieve the loosening of travel restrictions, but first we want to show how a targeted testing programme could work.”

Austrian aims to roll out testing more widely if it becomes well established, it said, adding that the results from Vienna would inform Lufthansa’s general testing project.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Additional reporting by Thomas Seythal in Berlin and Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt; Editing by David Goodman)

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