The Lufthansa Group has announced it will allow passengers with health conditions to fly without wearing a mask – so long as they prove they’re free of coronavirus.
The German-based company, which includes the carriers Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines, says the new tighter rules will come into force on September 1.
Those who are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition will have to provide a certificate signed by a doctor confirming they can’t wear one and present proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no longer than 48 hours before departure.
The Lufthansa Group made face masks compulsory on board all flights at the beginning of May.
Exceptions to this rule were previously allowed by presenting a medical certificate.
The Lufthansa Group said in a statement: ‘The new rules on the compulsory wearing of masks now ensure even better protection for all passengers.
‘Passengers will be informed about the new requirements via the airlines’ websites and social media channels, as well as via e-mail and SMS. This will allow customers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new measures in good time.
‘The airlines in the Lufthansa Group have introduced extensive hygiene measures onboard and on the ground.
‘The Lufthansa Group is also in regular communications with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and national authorities to promote the ongoing development and harmonisation of health standards in air transport during the corona pandemic.
‘The risk of contracting the virus on board of an aircraft is very low. The cabins are equipped with filters that clean the air of contaminants such as dust, bacteria and viruses.’
Meanwhile, earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) appealed to all air travellers to wear a face covering for the duration of their journeys to ‘protect the safety of other passengers and crew during the pandemic’.
It said it was emphasising the need for passengers to comply with the rules ‘following recent reports of travellers refusing to wear face coverings during flights’.
The organisation added: ‘While this is confined to a very small number of individuals, some onboard incidents have become violent, resulting in costly and extremely inconvenient diversions to offload these passengers.’
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said: ‘This is a call for common sense and taking responsibility. The vast majority of travellers understand the importance of face coverings both for themselves as well as for their fellow passengers, and airlines appreciate this collective effort.
‘But a small minority create problems. Safety is at the core of aviation, and compliance with crew safety instructions is the law. Failure to comply can jeopardise a flight’s safety, disrupt the travel experience of other passengers and impact the work environment for crew.’