An airport in Italy is claiming it will open the first “COVID-free” air corridor between the European Union and the United States.
Passengers travelling between New York Newark airport and Fiumicino airport, near Rome, will from December be able to avoid quarantining upon arrival.
People travelling from the US will be required to perform a molecular or antigenic test within 48 hours before boarding and a rapid antigenic test upon arrival in Rome.
The airport has been operating “COVID-free” flights with Milan since September and has erected a rapid testing centre in one of the arrivals terminals as well as a “drive-through” testing facility at its long-stay car park, with results handed out within 30 minutes.
“This pilot phase aims at assessing the effectiveness and functionality of the new travel procedures, looking at making it widely available in the summer 2021 season,” Aeroporti di Roma, who run Fiumicino, said in a statement.
“The order includes the launching of the COVID test flights between Munich, Frankfurt and Rome Fiumicino, aiming at ensuring that the new travel procedure could be tested within the European Union as well,” it added.
To curb the spread of the deadly pandemic, European countries shut their borders in the spring. The vast majority have since lifted their restrictions with other member states.
The EU’s external borders remain mostly closed. The bloc has recommended a coordinated approach based on the epidemiological situations of third countries.
Currently, the council recommends that member states gradually lift travel restrictions for residents of nine countries: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay and China — the latter of which is subject to confirmation of reciprocity.
The United States, which has the highest COVID-19 death toll and caseload in the world, does not feature on the EU list.