“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 of Global Sales. “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 has engaged advisors from Mayo Clinic to review and assess the customer-testing protocols needed for Delta to execute a Covid-tested flight programme.
“Based on the modelling 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-per-cent full – should be nearly one in a million,” said Henry Ting, Chief Value Officer at Mayo Clinic.
No quarantine when travelling for essential reasons
Starting from 19 December, Delta’s 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 US citizens from quarantine if they are permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as for work, health or 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 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 US
- Customers also will be asked to provide information upon entry into the US to support CDC contact-tracing protocols
In October, United Airlines launched a similar project, offering rapid tests to every passenger aged over two years old and to crewmembers onboard select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to London Heathrow free of charge.
Free travel for Delta employees
Meanwhile, as the global air travel industry recovers from the financial impact of Covid-19, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian is rewarding employees with free travel to any place in the world where the company continues to fly.
“I hope these passes will help with your own healing as we move into the future, whether it’s to connect with family, experience a brand-new part of the world, or embark on an adventure with a loved one,” Bastian wrote in a company memo this week.
A number of Delta employees continued to report to work during the crisis, ‘under conditions that were unimaginable a year ago’, the CEO said.