Rome’s Fiumicino Airport began its “COVID-tested” flight service yesterday, open only to passengers who have tested negative for coronavirus.
Italian airline Alitalia is running two flights a day, between Rome and Milan, which are available exclusively to passengers who undergo a free rapid antigen test before boarding. Alternatively, passengers can provide proof of a negative test result from a PCR or antigen swab test from no more than 72 hours before the flight.
Some airports, including Fiumicino, already provide a free testing service on arrival, but this will be the first time departing passengers have had the opportunity.
The “COVID-free” flights are currently being trialed on the Alitalia Rome Fiumicino-Milan Linate route. Marco Troncone, CEO of ADR, Rome’s airport group, has said the flights are about reassuring passengers: “On those flights you know the person next to you is negative.”
Passengers on the COVID-tested flights are being recommended to arrive at the airport an hour and a half before their departure. They will undergo a nasal swab test in the departure area testing center and await their test results before proceeding to the gate if the test is negative. Any passenger who tests positive for the coronavirus will not be permitted to board the flight, but will be provided with a voucher to use on an alternative flight.
Any passengers not wishing to take a COVID test have the option of switching to a different Alitalia Rome-Milan flight at no extra cost.
After a month’s trial on the Rome-Milan route, the airport hopes to expand the service, including on flights from Rome to New York.
Troncone has implied that for those permitted to board a COVID-free flight “there would be no need for quarantine” on arrival, but this would depend on the regulations of the destination countries.
The service hopes to reassure passengers about flying and boost the struggling airline industry by eliminating the need for quarantine on arrival in a new country. “The initiative therefore aims to lead the way for the recovery of air traffic … and, more generally, to strengthen travelers’ confidence in flying,” Alitalia wrote in a statement.
Currently, passengers arriving into Italy from Spain, Greece, Croatia and Malta are obbliged to take a coronavirus test. For passengers arriving from other destinations and departing passengers, the COVID-19 test is not mandatory.