U.S. Airline Set to Launch “Quarantine-Free” Flight to Italy
Quarantine-free travel between the US and Europe is a step closer with the announcement that Delta Airlines will launch a COVID-19 testing program on its flights between Atlanta and Rome.
Delta Air Lines is working with Italy’s national airline, Alitalia, to resume an air route that has been closed since the rise of the pandemic.
Both airlines are launching COVID-tested, quarantine-free flights between the U.S. and Italy starting in December. The new program will allow a limited number of passengers to take transatlantic flights between Atlanta and Rome without having to quarantine upon arrival.
In a press release, the US airline explained that it had developed a rigorous COVID-19 testing regime, with assistance from the Mayo Clinic, as well as the state government of Georgia and the Italian government, which would allow travelers to fly between Atlanta and Rome without the need to quarantine.
Carefully designed COVID-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in placeSteve Sear, Delta President – International and Executive Vice President – Global Sales
The program will see travelers take four tests over the course of their trip, as follows:
- A COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure.
- A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding.
- A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino.
- A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States.
- These measures, combined with deep cleaning, social distancing, mask wearing and other safety protocols, will allow people to travel safely on these Delta Airlines flights between Atlanta and Rome and remove the need to quarantine on arrival, significantly reducing some of the barriers which are currently stopping people from traveling abroad.
The news offers hope that similar COVID-free air corridors may be opened up between the US and other countries, allowing travelers to resume overseas vacations without having to waste precious holiday time in self-isolation.
Winning back customers
Airlines around the world have been developing creative solutions and workarounds in order to get people flying again safely amid the pandemic, with strict COVID-19 testing programs emerging as a key new feature of travel.
Several airlines have already announced pilot testing programs which they hope will enable quarantine-free travel between certain destinations. For example, British Airways, American Airlines and United Airlines have launched pre-flight testing options for travel between the US and the UK, in the hope of demonstrating that COVID-free travel corridors can be successfully set-up.
The airlines hope that the success of these pilot programs will encourage governments around the world to establish routine COVID-19 testing for travelers and thereby allow many more people to fly to their destination.
Travel Ban Between US and Europe
While the Delta Airlines testing program is undoubtedly good new, its use will be fairly limited due to the travel ban between the US and Europe that remains in place at present. The US is reportedly considering lifting restrictions on European arrivals, but there are currently no signs that the EU will reciprocate this move.
As a result, few travelers will be able to take advantage of the Delta Airlines offer for now. However, with more pilot programs like this one being rolled out across the world, the hope is that governments will see that COVID-free flight corridors can be established and travel restrictions lifted, allowing people to take overseas vacations once again.
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Start of the Program
Delta will begin the program on December 19 from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport for all U.S. citizens permitted to travel to Italy for “essential reasons, such as work, health and education.” European Union and Italian citizens, also with essential reasons, will be allowed to travel the route.
Passengers will also be asked to provide information upon entry into the U.S. to support Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contact-tracing protocols.
Reportedly, Rome’s Aeroporti di Roma and Alitalia will also be involved in the quarantine free program and that flights to New York’s JFK and Newark Liberty would also be included, though no concrete date was included for flights from those airports.
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