MIAMI – Today, Delta Air Lines (DL) announced the launch of its first quarantine-free flight to Italy during the pandemic thanks to the trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program. The program is a partnership between the airline, Aeroporti di Roma authority, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

The testing approach is in accordance with a decree expected to be issued soon by the Italian government, according to a DL statement. The scheduled flights from ATL to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) will start on December 19.

To travel between ATL and FCO, DL informed that passengers would need to present negative COVID-19 test results. These could be through a PCR test taken up to 72 hours before departure and a rapid test at ATL before boarding.

The negative test will also apply if it is taken at FCO after arrival or before departure to the US. In the latter, passengers will have to provide information upon entry into the US. This will help to support CDC contact-tracing protocols.

Only the European Union, Italian citizens and all US citizens who are permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons can avoid the quarantine on arrival.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-432ER (N842MH). | Photo: © Nick Van Der Hook

Flying Strategy to Return Confidence

Speaking about the launch, DL President of International and Executive Vice President of Global Sales Steve Sear remarked on the importance of this program. According to Sear, the testing protocols are the “best path” for resuming international travel safely. This also allows to travel without quarantine until vaccinations are widely spread out, added Sear.

The airline has also worked closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to reopen other international travel markets.

In this case, DL partnered with Mayo Clinic expert advisors to review and assess the customer-testing protocols to execute them in the program. On this, Mayo Clinic Chief Value Officer Henry Ting said that by implementing all safety and cleaning requirements and protocols, the risk of COVID-19 infection could be reduced. Therefore, on a flight that is 60% full, the rate “should be nearly one in a million.”

On its part, the Aeroporti di Roma authority has been working with DL in a testing approach since early this year. Together, they implemented a successful intra-Italy COVID-tested flight trial through Alitalia (AZ). In fact, on Skytrax’s anti-COVID health protocols, FCO is the only worldwide airport that has obtained the maximum five-star rating.

Featured photo: Delta Air Lines hand sanitizer while boarding. Photo: Delta Air Lines.