Next month, Delta Air Lines is adding routes to its quarantine-free flight offerings between the US and Italy. On April 1st, COVID-tested flights will begin taking off from New York JFK to Rome Fiumicino and one day later to Milan Malpensa. To begin with, services will depart a few times a week and gradually increase to daily frequencies as summer inches closer.
The flights involve a rigorous testing protocol that includes a PCR-test taken no more than 72 hours before departure, a rapid test performed at the departure airport, and another rapid test upon arrival. If all are negative, travelers can skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine for international arrivals.
“A year after air travel stalled to levels not seen in living memory, these COVID-tested, quarantine-free flights provide a real boost to the aviation industry. 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,” said Alain Bellemare, Delta’s Executive Vice President and President – International, in a statement.
In turn, this is an expansion of Delta’s test-to-skip-quarantine scheme already in operation between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Rome, as well as Amsterdam Schiphol. Both services operate in partnership with Alitalia and KLM.
Opening up key international route for Milan
To start, the JFK – Milan Malpensa service will operate four times a week. However, the airline says it will increase the frequency to once-daily, beginning on May 2nd. Meanwhile, Delta flights from New York to Rome will initially depart three times a week, increasing to four weekly in May, and finally ramping up to daily departures in June.
According to Delta’s schedule, flights to both Milan and Rome will be operated by the airline’s Airbus A330-300. One-way tickets in basic economy begin as low as $279 in April to both destinations, increasing by about $100 later in the year.
“The new COVID-tested flights operated by Delta to Milan-Malpensa are an important and tangible step towards making travel safer and easier for passengers during the pandemic. Milan to New York is a key intercontinental route for our market,” said Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports.
“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,” he continued.
Travel remains restricted to essential purposes
However, it is not so easy as if you wish to go to Italy, you get tested, hop on a Delta flight, and off you go. There are still travel restrictions in place that prohibit entry for US nationals until at least April 6th. Exceptions are made for those journeying to Italy for essential reasons, including business, health, or education. Travelers with proof of being unmarried partners to a resident of Italy are also allowed to enter the country.
What do you think of triple-tested flights as a means of reopening international travel? Leave a comment below and let us know.