Vueling Airbus A320neo aircraft

DALLAS – Italy is set to announce new COVID vaccine entry requirements. US airlines are preparing crews for the impact on operations to the country.

If the new requirement takes effect, it would include a specific timeframe since the flight crews’ last full vaccination and/or booster. Starting on Jan. 10, there’s information that all hotels in Italy will require that it has been no longer than nine months since their last full vaccination shot or booster shot.

Airways reached out to US airline unions and Italian authorities and still awaits confirmation of the new requirement. If it goes thru, the rule would apply for crew members 50 years of age or older – most crews from North America who can hold an Italy trip are over 50.

According to an American Airlines (AA) internal memo, the US Government Affairs team is working with the Italian government agencies and other airlines to secure an exemption for crew members to maneuver thru the new entry requirements.

Milan Malpensa Airport. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

What about the Green Pass?

As for the Green Pass, which is valid to enter Italy, the rules state that those who have received two or three doses, and seven days (for the Pfizer vaccine) or 14 days (for the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines) have passed since the day of last vaccination are eligible for a Green Pass valid for up to six months -not nine months – from the day of last vaccination.

Additionally, those who received three doses are eligible for a Green Pass which is valid for no more than six months from the last vaccination day or through 28.2.2022, whichever is the latest. Finally, those who have received only one dose – between 6.1.2022 and 18.1.2022 those who have received one dose will also be eligible for a temporary Green Pass, which will be valid for 30 days from the day the first dose was administered.

Further, according to the Italian health ministry, the US is listed under List D. To ensure the safety of residents and tourists, the Italian government has also introduced a classification of regions based on white (minimum risk), yellow, orange, and red (maximum risk) color codes.

Domestic and foreign airliners at LAX. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Impact on Crews, Scheduling for Italy

Should crews not be given an exemption by Italian authorities, if the former are not vaccinated or if it has been more than nine months since their last shot, AA says they’ll be removed from their trip. The carrier says it is making contact with all crew members working at JFK MXP from Jan. 8–10 to verify their booster status.

If unvaccinated, AA says crews will not be eligible to fly to Italy and will need to drop or trade their trip thru ETB or TTS. If they fail to drop or trade their trip by Jan. 7 at 1200 CT, crews will be removed from their sequence originating Jan. 8–10 without pay protection, according to the AA memo. Removals for the rest of the month will take place on Jan. 9 at 1200 CT.

Apart from AA, United Airlines (UA), Delta Air Lines (DL), and Air Canada (AC) would all be impacted by the new Italian entry requirement, not to mention any other airline that overnight crews in Italy. 

Reuters reports that more than 96% of AA’s employees have provided documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or a request for an exemption from the regulations, according to the airline.

Domestically, the major U.S. airline postponed until January 4 the implementation of a regulation requiring its U.S.-based employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus unless they have a religious or medical exemption.

American Airlines said Friday “anyone who isn’t vaccinated, including those with an approved accommodation, will be required to complete a weekly self-health declaration, practice social distancing when possible, and wear a mask at all times, except when outside and social distancing can be maintained.”

Rome–Fiumicino International Airport “Leonardo da Vinci” (FCO) is an international airport in Rome, Italy. It is the busiest airport in the country. Photo: FCO

What if No Exception is Granted?

Concerning operations to Italy, there is no action on the part of US vaccinated crews that do not have a full vaccination or booster within the past nine months unless they wish to drop or trade their trip thru ETB or TTS. However, if airlines do not receive an exemption for this requirement, crews will be removed from their trip(s) as noted below.

At the time of this writing, there is no update as to whether an exemption is being granted to airlines, let alone any official confirmation on the new Italian vaccine entry requirements; airlines say they are hopeful of receiving information in the coming days.

If airlines do not get an exemption, AA says it will begin removals for trips departing from Jan. 8–10 on Jan. 7 at 1200 CT. All other trips departing Jan. 11 and beyond will have removals done on Jan. 9 at 1200 CT. If the entry rules are set into motion, we expect other major airlines to follow suit.

If AA crew members have received their full vaccination or booster in the last nine months, they can submit the information and not be removed from their trip(s). The carrier says crews can also get a booster shot before the removal dates above.

This is a developing story.

Featured image: Vueling Airbus A320neo lining up at Milan Malpensa (MXP) – Photo: Alberto Cucini (@ac_avphoto)