In a sudden announcement yesterday, the Italian government lifted restrictions on U.S. pleasure travelers traveling to the country from tomorrow, May 16 if they arrive on one of Delta Airlines’ flights requiring multiple COVID tests. The flights had been operating since April and allowed Italian citizens or residents to return or travelers going to Italy for essential professional, health or family reasons to avoid quarantine; they are now open to all leisure travelers.
“Delta was the first US airline to launch non-quarantine service to Italy, and our COVID-tested flights have proven to be a viable way to restart international travel safely,” said Alain Bellemare, vice president Delta Executive and President – International. “It is encouraging that the Italian government has taken this step to reopen the country to US pleasure travelers on our dedicated protocol flights, thereby supporting the economic recovery from the global pandemic.
Delta routes include five weekly flights between Atlanta and Rome increasing daily on May 26, daily service between New York JFK and Milan and three times weekly service between New York JFK and Rome increasing daily on July 1 . Delta also plans to add other non-stop this summer: New York JFK in Venice starting July 2; Atlanta to Venice and Boston to Rome, both starting August 5. Delta flights are operated in collaboration with the partner Alitalia. The existing service is operated by the 293-seat Boeing A330-300 aircraft; the new service will be provided by 226-seat Boeing 767-300s, all fitted with extended Delta One seats, Delta Comfort + and Main Cabin.
To fly on these flights, passengers must complete a series of mandatory tests before departure and upon arrival, regardless of their vaccination status. The first step is a negative PCR test up to 72 hours before departure, followed by a rapid test at the airport just before boarding and another rapid test after landing in Italy. Assuming all tests come back negative, travelers are then free to explore Italy, including new properties scheduled to open this year after the pandemic-induced travel freeze. Travelers must also submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure to return to the United States, a provision that recently became easier when the CDC allowed airlines to accept home tests related to supervision. remotely.
Considering these early stages of opening the door to this popular destination for American travelers and the effect it will have on increasing Italy’s tourist income in high season, it seems likely that more developments will follow. American Airlines also introduced COVID flights to the country this spring, currently also reserved for Italian citizens, permanent residents or passengers forced to travel for work or health reasons; opening to all passengers after Delta’s advance seems quite possible. Leaders from other European countries who have expressed a desire to welcome international travelers again this summer are no doubt watching and could introduce similar measures. Delta is strategically adding services as openings occur: it has already added flights to Iceland and Greece from May 28 and the New York JFK launch service to Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 2.