Delta and KLM will launch Covid-tested flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam from December 15, 2020. The initiative will mean that eligible customers will be exempt from quarantine on arrival after receiving a negative PCR test result on landing in the Netherlands.
The airline partners have worked with the Dutch government, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to deliver a the programme in the latest attempt of airlines to demonstrate to governments that testing is more effective than quarantines.
As with that flight, passengers wishing to fly will need to satisfy certain criteria. On the flight to Amsterdam, this is to:
- Take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 5 days before arrival in Amsterdam.
- Take a rapid antigen prior to boarding at the Atlanta airport.
- Take a PCR test directly upon arrival at Schiphol.
The new flight will operate four times per week from Atlanta to Amsterdam, with Delta and KLM operating two frequencies each. Only passengers with negative test results will be accepted on board. The flights will initially run for three weeks and, if successful, the airlines hope to extend the program to other markets.
Customers will be able to choose the Covid-tested flights when they purchase their tickets online or opt for one of the alternative Delta or KLM daily flights between Atlanta and Amsterdam that are not covered within the trial program.
Entry requirements for the Netherlands normally include 10 days of quarantine. However, by completing a negative PCR test five days before arrival in the Netherlands and self-isolating until departure, customers can choose to complete the quarantine ahead of their departing flight. No quarantine will be required upon arrival once the customer tests negative via a second PCR test at Schiphol airport.
This new protocol will be available to all citizens permitted to travel to the Netherlands for essential reasons, such as for certain specified work, health and education reasons Customers who are transiting via Amsterdam to other countries will still be required to follow entry requirements and any mandatory quarantine in place at their final destination.
Pieter Elbers, President & CEO KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said, “This is a very important and great step forward. Until an approved working vaccine is available worldwide, this testing program represents the first step towards the international travel industry’s recovery. I am grateful for the constructive collaboration with our partners Delta Air Lines and the Schiphol Group and to have the support of the Dutch government to make this unique COVID- free travel corridor trial possible.
“All stakeholders need to work together on a systematic approach to rapid testing and build these tests into the passenger experience, so quarantine measures can be lifted as quickly as possible. This is fundamental to restore passengers’ and governments’ confidence in air travel.”
“Creating COVID-free travel corridors, in addition to the multiple layers of safety and hygiene measures we have implemented through the Delta CareStandard, will provide customers – and authorities – greater confidence that they can stay healthy when flying,” said Steve Sear, Delta President – International and Executive Vice President – Global Sales. “Delta has worked with our partners and health authorities to reopen the skies safely and resume international air travel until a vaccine is in place removing the requirement of quarantine.”
Royal Schiphol Group CEO Dick Benschop said: “This is an important step to validate that test regimes make safe and responsible air travel possible while reducing the need for travel bans and long quarantine measures. We thank the Dutch government and our partners”