Delta Air Lines aeroplanes parked at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, the US, March 25 2020. Picture: REUTERS/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE
Delta Air Lines aeroplanes parked at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, the US, March 25 2020. Picture: REUTERS/ELIJAH NOUVELAGE

Rome — Rome's Fiumicino airport will run Covid-tested flights to and from the US operated by Delta Air Lines and Alitalia, it said on Thursday, adding it will be the first airport in Europe to offer the service on transatlantic flights.

From December, passengers flying between Rome and some US destinations can be tested for the coronavirus 48 hours before departure and on arrival at the airport, to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine Italy imposes on incoming travellers.

Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), the unit of Italian infrastructure group Atlantia that runs Fiumicino airport, said the new protocol will be valid for those flying from New York JFK, Newark and Atlanta.

In a separate statement, Delta Air Lines said it would reopen its routes between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport, in Georgia, and Rome on December 19 to those travelling for work, health or study reasons.

“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 global sales president.

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.

The Italian government is expected to give the go-ahead to Covid-tested US flights in the coming days, ADR said, adding that the government's official backing will also allow them to offer such flights between Rome and Munich, and Rome and Frankfurt in Germany.

On Wednesday, Delta pilots approved an agreement that will protect them from furloughs in 2021 in exchange for cutting how much they fly.

The plan won 74% support in a vote, the Delta chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association said in an e-mail Wednesday. The pact will trim guaranteed monthly flying time by about 2% on average, or about two hours, for each pilot. Delta had warned that 1,713 pilots would be furloughed if an agreement to cut labour costs was not approved.

The deal enables Delta to avoid pilot layoffs while waiting for a rebound in sales that have been gutted by the coronavirus pandemic. While demand rose this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, US air travel recently has averaged less than 40% of what it was in 2019, Bloomberg reported.

Reuters

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