MIAMI – Airports Council International (ACI) Europe presented today the results of the COVID-19 test pilot program, conducted at Rome-Fiumicino Airport, and operated by Aeroporti di Roma (ADR).
The trials have been taking place since December 8, 2020 with the joint participation of Alitalia (AZ), and Delta Air Lines (DL), both members of the Skyteam global traveller alliance. Also, Italian and US Authorities have provided support.
The trials have been taking place since December 8, 2020 with the joint participation of Alitalia (AZ), and Delta Air Lines (DL), both members of the Skyteam global traveller alliance. Also, Italian and US Authorities have provided support to the program led by ADR, which also operates Ciampino Airport (CIA).
COVID-19 vaccine delays will affect air travel
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, warned that the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the European Union and the subsequent delays in the vaccination programs will have dire consequences for airports, airlines, and tourism.
“Airports have essentially written off the coming months, but they desperately need to see a recovery in passenger traffic by the Summer. With the vaccination drive across the EU in disarray, this is now being questioned. We risk seeing tight restrictions and bans on travel remaining in place beyond the Summer – including for intra-European travel,” Jankovec commented.
The General Director also warned that governments should establish basic travel conditions instead of implementing strict travel bans and other severe restrictions. “[It] is about saving both lives and livelihoods. This obviously requires more visibility on the extent to which the new COVID-19 variants are present in Europe, and the extent to which they may already be driving community transmission.”
In order to achieve such basic conditions, Jankovec enthused that the rollout of the COVID-19 immunization programs in the European Union will provide enough data that can establish predictable patterns, onto which can base proper risk assessment schemes.
Optimal Test Results
The headline results show that during the trial phase, only five passengers out of 3,824 proved COVID-19 positive – an overall positivity rate of just 0.13%. These figures show that these COVID-19 tested flights had no impact on the prevalence of the virus in Italy, pointing to testing for air travel as an effective risk control measure without the need to resort to quarantines. The full results of the trial can be accessed here.
The results presented today in an ACI Europe webinar show that only five passengers out of 3,824 proved COVID-19 positive during the trial phase – an overall positivity rate of just 0.13%. These figures show that the pilot program had no impact on the prevalence of the virus in Italy, pointing to testing for air travel as an effective risk control measure without the need for quarantines, travel bans, or other travel restrictions.
Marco Troncone, CEO of ADR praised the results. “The excellent results obtained so far from the Covid-Tested flights trial carried out by Aeroporti di Roma confirm the health effectiveness of the protocol; in fact, thanks to a pre-departure control on 100% of passengers, it allows a radical reduction in the risk of virus importation, in particular as an alternative to the measure of trust-based isolation.”
Troncone believes that the approach should be the creation of international ‘clean corridors,’ which would guarantee a safe travel and therefore, lead to a recovery of air travel passenger numbers. ADR is currently working to extend the program beyond the deadline, due on February 15. The CEO calls other airlines, airports and authorities to participate and create a common protocol used across Europe.
“Aeroporti di Roma is also working to implement an effective digitalization of the processes. We are developing a Travel Health Portal and implementing health pass solutions that can help ensure convenient, reliable handling of the certificates before departure, and allow for valid contact-tracing support,” the CEO concluded.
Featured image: Rome Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) Terminal view and ATC Tower. Photo: Marco Macca – @aviator_ita