MILAN (Reuters) – Italian carrier Alitalia will offer COVID-tested flights between Rome and New York starting from Dec. 8, the airline and the company running Rome’s Fiumicino airport said in a joint statement on Friday.
The announcement follows a health ministry order issued late last month and in force until Feb. 15 under which passengers flying between Rome and some U.S. destinations either produce a valid negative COVID test – conducted within the last 48 hours – when arriving at the airport or are tested before boarding.
On arrival in Italy, passengers undergo another coronavirus test which, if negative, exempts them from the 14-day quarantine Italy imposes on incoming travellers.
The quarantine exemption only applies to Italy, while restrictions on entry into the United States provided for by the U.S. government remain in place.
In September, in an effort to resume domestic travel after the first wave of the epidemic, Alitalia experimented with COVID testing on some flights between Rome’s Fiumicino and Milan’s city airport Linate, Italy’s biggest hubs.
However, the government progressively restricted movement between regions to tackle a second wave of infections.
Fiumicino saw its passenger traffic plummet this year due to the coronavirus crisis and early in March it was forced to announce a partial closure.
“This experimental phase will aim to evaluate the effectiveness and functionality of the new travel mode, with the aim of making it more widely available in view of the upcoming Summer 2021 season,” the companies said in Friday’s statement.
(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)