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An Austrian Airlines A320 landing in London. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Austrian Airlines Advocates For Pandemic Testing Program – Expanding Flights In Europe

As the aviation industry continues to be persistent, airlines stay firm with their struggle to compete and find new ways to attract passengers back onto the countless, practically empty aircraft and retrieve the travel demand that remains to stay afloat, during this period. In the U.S., American, Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, JetBlue and Southwest have taken a wide variety of steps ranging from blocking the middle seats, enforcing mask requirements and altering the onboard service. Meanwhile, carriers in other parts of the world have decided to take a different approach to adapt to the current industry’s environment. 

In Europe, Austrian Airlines has officially proclaimed its initiative to require travelers from high-risk countries to participate in comprehensive COVID-19 testing, a prospective replacement for the existing travel entry bans from countries outside of the EU.

“The freedom to travel is an important cornerstone of our modern-day society which should not be curtailed in the long term. Whoever is healthy and not infected should also be allowed to travel,” Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis Von Hoensbroech said. 

Von Hoenbroech adds, “We are advocating an international solution. No other means of transport offers as good an opportunity for health checks as the aviation sector. This possibility is exactly what we should leverage in order to facilitate travel in times of the coronavirus without compromising health protection. This approach is also in the interests of passengers because a further step towards ensuring freedom of travel is also a further step towards returning to normalcy.”

The push for the airline’s fundamental testing requirement and the program is in response to the Austrian Federal Government’s decision to remove landing and entry bans from 18 countries outside of the EU.

Austrian Expands European Flight Operations

The Vienna-based carrier’s decision to push for the extensive testing program will also complement its gradual flight resumptions and expansion through the end of the year, such as more flights to holiday destinations in Greece, Spain and Italy.  The testing program will allow the airline to effectively adjust its operations to meet the current and seasonal travel demands. 

Additionally, Austria’s flag carrier is increasing the number of flights for major cities across Europe from London, Kiev, Stockholm, Sofia, Bulgaria, and Tirana, Albania where the testing program will also play a pivotal role in the airline’s progress to remain a prominent carrier in Europe. 

Concurrently, fellow Star-Alliance member, Lufthansa officially announced its testing program from its hubs in late June.  The Cologne, DE-based carrier arranged testing centers in its two largest hubs, Frankfurt and Munich for passengers to get tested on short notice for flight to outside the EU or a stay in Germany. 

Since Austrian is a part of the Lufthansa Group, along with SWISS, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, its participation and its approach for the testing program within Austria, will ultimately benefit the airline group, that is wholly owned by Lufthansa. Each airline in the collective group will sustain the continuation to expand their schedules and restore flight operations to competitive business and leisure destinations. 

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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