Delta Air Lines, the Aeroporti di Roma and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have joined in a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program that will enable quarantine-free entry into Italy.
“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 Steve Sear, Delta President – International and Executive Vice President - Global Sales. “Safety is our core promise – it’s at the center of this pioneering testing effort and it’s the foundation of our standards for cleanliness and hygiene to help customers feel confident when they fly Delta.”
Delta has engaged expert advisors from Mayo Clinic, a global leader in serious and complex healthcare, to review and assess the customer-testing protocols needed for Delta to execute a COVID-tested flight program.
“Based on the modeling we have conducted, when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million,” said Henry Ting, M.D., M.B.A., Chief Value Officer, Mayo Clinic.
Delta has also worked closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health to develop a blueprint for governments to reopen important international travel markets.
“The State of Georgia and the Italian government have demonstrated leadership in testing protocols and practices that can safely reopen international travel without quarantine requirements,” Sear added.
Starting Dec. 19, Delta’s dedicated trial will test customers and crew on newly relaunched flights from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport. The tests will exempt from quarantine on arrival in Italy all U.S. citizens permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as for work, health and education, as well as all European Union and Italian citizens.
To fly on Delta’s COVID-tested flights between Atlanta and Rome, customers will need to test negative for COVID-19 through:
- A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure
- A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
- A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
- A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States
Customers also will be asked to provide information upon entry into the U.S. to support CDC contact-tracing protocols.
Aeroporti di Roma earlier this year implemented a successful intra-Italy COVID-tested flight trial with Delta’s Italian codeshare partner Alitalia and is the only airport in the world to have obtained the maximum five-star rating from Skytrax on its anti-COVID health protocols. Rome-Fiumicino Airport serves over 40 million passengers a year and has been rated Europe's Best Hub Airport for a third year in a row by Airports Council International.
About Delta CareStandard
The health and safety of customers and employees remains Delta’s No. 1 priority. Customers onboard Delta’s COVID-tested flights will additionally benefit from the more than 100 safety and cleanliness initiatives the airline has implemented across its operation based on expert insights from collaborations with Mayo Clinic, Purell, Emory University and Lysol. As part of the Delta CareStandard, the airline is blocking middle seats through March 30, 2021, ensuring rigorous mask compliance, electrostatically cleaning cabins before all flights and more.
Recent research shows how well these measures are working. In one of the most comprehensive studies to date, Harvard scientists concluded last month that the multiple layers of protection used during air travel, such as frequent air circulation and mandatory mask-wearing, make being on an airplane as safe as, or safer, than other routine activities like going to a grocery store or eating out.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the decree issued by the government of Italy.