For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic swept across Europe and the United States, a pilot program will allow a limited number of passengers to travel across the Atlantic from Atlanta to Italy without having to quarantine upon arrival, according to a Delta Air Lines news release on Thursday.
The airline said it had worked with officials in both Georgia and Italy and that the program would rely on a strict testing protocol to ensure the flights could be conducted safely and “coronavirus free.”
Starting Dec. 19, 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, would have to test negative for Covid-19 three times:
Once with a polymerase chain reaction (P.C.R.) test taken up to 72 hours before departure.
Once with a rapid test at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
And once again with a rapid test upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
Passengers departing Rome would again have to pass a rapid test at the airport.
Travelers will also be asked to provide information upon entry into the United States to support contact-tracing protocols set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Airlines, battered by the pandemic, have been working to establish travel corridors that are both safe and reliable.
The International Air Transport Association forecast this week that the sector will lose $157 billion by the end of next year.
“This crisis is devastating and unrelenting,” the organization’s director, Alexandre de Juniac, said in a statement.
Delta, in partnership with Alitalia, said the airlines worked with the Mayo Clinic to devise the protocols and hoped they could serve as a model going forward.