Lufthansa operated its first coronavirus-free flight last week as part of its new testing programme for selected services between Munich and Hamburg.

The carrier piloted the programme on two daily flights (one in either direction) on November 12, with all passengers on flight LH2058 from Munich, and return service LH2059 from Hamburg, testing negative before departure.

Under this programme, passengers are offered a Covid-19 antigen rapid test free-of-charge at both Hamburg and Munich airports. Provided that they receive a negative result (this can take between 30-60 minutes), their boarding passes are activated and they are granted access to the gate.

Passengers are also given the option to instead present proof of a negative PCR test, taken no more than 48 hours before departure. The carrier states that those who do not wish to be tested will be moved to an alternative flight at no additional cost.

The testing programme is carried out in partnership with Munich and Hamburg airports, as well as biotech company Centogene and the Medicover Group’s medical care centre, MVZ Martinsried.

Ola Hansson, CEO of Lufthansa Hub Munich, commented on the pilot:

“We want to again expand the worldwide travel options for our customers while maintaining the highest hygiene and safety standards. Successful testing of entire flights can be an important key to this. With the test flights we have successfully launched today, we are gaining important knowledge and experience in handling rapid tests”.

Jost Lammers, CEO of Flughafen München GmbH, added:

“The trial run with the rapid antigen tests on selected Lufthansa flights is a positive and important signal for the industry. In addition to the extensive hygiene measures that airports and airlines already have in place for passengers, these tests offer an additional level of safety. This could mean that in future – if the appropriate international agreements are reached – cross-border travel without the obligatory quarantine obligation could once again be possible”.

Earlier this year Alitalia launched a trial of Covid-tested flights on its Rome-Milan route, while Austrian Airlines also plans to implement mandatory testing on selected flights between Vienna and Hamburg.

Additionally, United Airlines will offer free rapid Covid-19 tests to customers travelling from Newark Liberty International to London Heathrow from November 16.