LONDON – Austrian Airlines (OS) extends the test phase for mandatory free COVID-19 antigen rapid tests until December 15, 2020. All passengers and crew members on OS flights OS171 (Vienna-Hamburg) and OS172 (Hamburg-Vienna) will be tested for the virus prior to departure.
The testing scheme ensures that all persons on board have been tested negative for COVID-19. Since the start of the pilot project on November 12, OS has been able to build up experience and practice in integrating the rapid tests into the travel chain.
The extension of two weeks shall provide further insights in order to offer the test service on a larger scale in the medium term and to extend it to other routes in the OS network. Thus, the idea is to combine freedom of travel and health protection by using rapid tests and to achieve a long-term relaxation of the numerous entry restrictions.
Statement from Austrian Airlines
Jens Ritter, Austrian Airlines COO, said, “The announcement that a vaccination will soon be available offers reason for hope. But until it is available on a large scale, we are continuing to work at full speed on our rapid testing offer.”
“Our obligatory testing offer on the Hamburg flights has been accepted positively throughout. In November we tested a total of around 600 passengers and the respective crews.”
“Travel is a basic human need, and even a pandemic will not be able to slow it down in the long term. If we offer passengers and authorities even more safety when traveling, the demand for air travel will also increase again. However, for this we definitely need a common solution within the European Union.”
Statement from Vienna Airport
Julian Jäger, Member of the Executive Board of Vienna Airport, said, “The antigen rapid test trial, which is being conducted jointly with OS, is proving to be very successful and shows that these procedures can be very well integrated into the travel process.”
“In order to get economy and tourism back on track, there is an urgent need for a Europe-wide coordinated test strategy with the widespread use of these test procedures.”
“Even if vaccination is already in sight, it will still take some time for the vaccine to be widely used internationally. Antigen rapid tests are therefore an urgently needed way to increase freedom of travel.”
Featured image: Austrian Airlines Airbus A319-111 is on final at Naples International Airport (NAP). Photo: Marco Macca – @aviator_ita