Delta launching new quarantine-free flights to Italy

Mar 17, 2021

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Editor’s note: This piece has been updated with additional information.

Back in December, Delta trialed quarantine-free travel between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Aeroporti di Roma Fiumicino (FCO). On Wednesday, the Atlanta-based carrier announced it would be launching quarantine-free flights between New York-JFK and FCO as well as Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP).

The quarantine-free flights from JFK to FCO begin April 1 and will operate thrice-weekly with an increase to 4x weekly in May and then finally daily in June. The MXP flights, which begin April 2, will operate 4x weekly in April and then daily starting May 2. The flights will operate through June 30.

“These COVID-tested, quarantine-free flights provide a real boost to the aviation industry,” said Delta’s Alain Bellemare, E.V.P and President – International. “We are starting to see more global vaccination programs but until they become more widespread, corridor flights like this can help keep our customers and crew safer when they fly.”

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Currently, all travelers to Italy from non-exempt countries must quarantine for 14 days. And, only essential travelers are permitted to enter the country at this time.

The program includes four testing points for eligible travelers:

  1. A COVID-19 PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before departure;
  2. A rapid test administered at the airport before boarding;
  3. A rapid test on arrival; and
  4. A rapid test before departure back to the U.S.

Delta says passengers are also required to “provide information prior to entry into the U.S. to support CDC contact-tracing protocols.”

Related: Traveling soon? Here’s where you can quickly get a COVID-19 PCR test for travel

“Carefully designed COVID-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place,” said Delta’s President of International and Executive Vice President of Global Sales Steve Sear.

Delta partnered with experts from the Mayo Clinic to review how it could safely implement testing protocols.

The carrier says it sees the quarantine-free flight program as a “clear way forward to support global economic recovery while vaccination efforts against COVID-19 roll out worldwide.”

Thanks to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, travel has started to slowly bounce back. March 12 marked a new pandemic-era record for the number of passengers screened by TSA since the onset of the pandemic. And, after a year of burning through as much as $100 million in cash daily, airlines are finally on the verge of a much-awaited goal: actually making money.

“We hope that this will be the first of many other COVID-tested and quarantine-free flights supporting the beginning of the recovery whilst we wait for vaccination campaigns to gain momentum,” said Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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