Lufthansa is focused on testing aimed to ease travel, build trust and open markets.
During a recent webinar, 20-year Lufthansa veteran, Dr. Bjoern Becker, senior director, product management, ground and digital services, discussed the many science-based innovations and measures Lufthansa has implemented to ensure the safety of its passengers and crew.
Becker, Lufthansa Group’s leading expert on innovation and digitalization, specializing in on-the-ground services said, “We are less focused on making ourselves look good and more focused on the safety of our passengers and crew.“
And to that end, Lufthansa clearly leads the way. After auditing over 150 airlines, B2B2C travel technology provider Safe Travel’s Safe Travel Barometer recently named Lufthansa as the top airline global airline with respect to COVID-19 due to the health and safety measures put in place to keep passengers and staff safe, both pre-flight and onboard the aircraft.
Lufthansa’s COVID-19 countermeasures begin on the ground preflight and include airport distancing, cleaning and infection protection standards, contactless travel (digital and biometrics). QR Codes direct you to register, buy the test, have a throat swab at an airport testing facility and receive results and a digital certificate in about 6-8 hours.
“People want to know if they’re infected prior to departure, and again on arrival and we provide that for all passengers and crew. Where else do you know everyone around you is protected?” Becker asks, adding that he believes this makes their flights the most protected environment one can be in.
Onboard, Lufthansa provides HEPA filters, enhanced cleaning onboard, specific seat allocations and boarding and deboarding row by row, which Becker says most passengers prefer. “The way we used to board and disembark has changed.”
According to Becker, testing is one of the major elements of fighting the virus and Lufthansa endeavors to make it easy for passengers to get tested for the COVID-19 virus. “If you need a COVID negative certificate to fly, we want to lower the hurdle for passengers and make it easier to get tested,” he says. With the first and largest testing facility at Frankfurt Airport (FRA), with multiple other facilities throughout Germany and Dusseldorf opening tomorrow, he adds, “We are also looking to add these services at major US and Canadian airports.”
Antigen Testing & Premium Services
Currently, the PCR test is most common but next generation Antigen testing is on Lufthansa’s radar. “The Antigen test is much faster and doesn’t require a lab environment. Where PCR test results can take several hours, Antigen testing can provide a result in as little as 15 minutes,” he explains.
Becker says Antigen tests, which looks for protein your immunity creates, are not scalable yet and might initially only be offered to premium customers. “We’ll apply any new testing methods first to our premium customers and when it becomes scalable, we can offer it to all customers,” he says. Lufthansa also provides separate lines for economy and premium passengers.
Lufthansa continues to offer its lounges, although not as many as before COVID-19, Becker admits. “Almost all US lounges are open as are most major European, obviously with reduced services. “We are bringing everything back step-by-step but we can’t do everything at once; we do need to control costs,” he says. “It has to make sense commercially.”
The Lufthansa Group is Europe’s largest aviation group, its passenger airlines include: Lufthansa, Austrian, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and Edelweiss.