Rome airport poised to try ‘COVID tested” flights from US with Delta, Alitalia


ROME, ITALY – MARCH 17: Two passengers wearing a protective mask hold their luggages at Terminal 3 of the Leonardo Da Vinci international airport of Rome Fiumicino on March 17, 2020 in Rome, Italy. One of the two terminals of the Leonardo Da Vinci international airport of Rome Fiumicino, the terminal 1 usually dedicated to domestic flights closes temporarily due to the Coronavirus emergency, the little air traffic left has been moved to Terminal 3. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

ROME (AP) — Italian authorities will soon approve an experiment with “COVID tested” flights from three U.S. airports with the aim of eliminating the required 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving in Italy, Rome’s main airport said Thursday.

ADR, which operates Leonardo da Vinci Airport, said that similar “COVID tested” corridors were also expected to be approved for flights between the airport and the German cities of Munich and Frankfurt.

An ADR statement said that pending approval from Italy’s transport, health and foreign ministries, starting sometime in December passengers coming from New York, Newark or Atlanta airports wouldn’t have to quarantine if they test negative for the coronavirus within 48 hours of departure and also upon arrival in Rome. The experiment involves Alitalia and Delta Air Lines.

Under pandemic rules in effect in Italy through at least Dec. 3, the only passengers who can enter the country from the United States are citizens of European Union nations, relatives of EU citizens, holders of Italian residency permits or those coming for reasons of study or a few other, essential purposes like health care.

Coming from the United States to Italy for tourism isn’t allowed. Nothing in the ADR statement indicated that is about to change, even as Italy reels under plummeted tourist revenues during the pandemic.

ADR expressed hopes that the limited, experimental program will prove workable and be expanded by next summer.

Delta Air Lines said in a statement that along with Rome’s airport and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, it has joined in a “first-of-a-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program that will enable quarantine-free entrance into Italy.”

It quoted Delta executive Steve Sear as saying that “carefully designed COVID-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place.”

The airline’s statement said Delta’s “dedicated trial” involving testing customers and crew would begin Dec. 19.

In contrast with the ADR statement, Delta said testing would be threefold: Passengers would be tested up to 72 hours before departure; a rapid test would conducted at the airport in Atlanta; and another rapid test administered upon arrival in Rome. Travelers also would undergo one more test at Rome’s airport before departing for the United States.

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