Delta is to launch a new trial enabling quarantine-free travel between the US and Italy next month.

The carrier is relaunching its route between Atlanta and Rome Fiumicino as a “Covid-free” service, meaning that from December 19 customers wishing to travel on the route will need to subject themselves to the following tests:

  • 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

Passengers will also be required to provide information upon entry into the US “to support CDC contact-tracing protocols”.

Delta says that an agreement between the carrier, the Aeroporti di Roma, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the relevant governments means that the tests “will exempt from quarantine on arrival in Italy all US 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”.

The airline says it has worked with Mayo Clinic “to review and assess the customer-testing protocols needed for Delta to execute a Covid-tested flight programme”.

Henry Ting, chief value officer at Mayo Clinic said that its modelling showed that the risk of Covid-19 infection should be “nearly one in a million”, on a 60 per cent full flight where testing protocols have been combined with protection such as mask wearing and social distancing.

The agreement follows successful trials of Covid-free flights between Rome and Milan by Delta’s codeshare partner Alitalia earlier this year.

Alitalia to trial Covid-tested flights

Other carriers including Lufthansa and Austrian have also been trialling similar services.

British Airways and American Airlines recently launched a transatlantic Covid-19 testing trial on selected flights between the United States and London Heathrow – but these are voluntary and do not result in quarantine-free travel for the passenger.

Commenting on the news Steve Sear, Delta President – International and Executive Vice President – Global Sales, said:

“Carefully designed Covid-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place.

“Safety is our core promise – it’s at the centre 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 recently confirmed plans to continue blocking middle seats on its aircraft until March 2021.

Delta to continue blocking middle seats until March 2021