(CNN) — The latest pandemic-era protocol from Delta Air Lines will let some passengers coming from the US have quarantine-free entry to Amsterdam.
Passengers will have to test negative for Covid-19 before and after the flight — allowing them to enter the Dutch capital without having to comply with the country’s 10-day quarantine advisory.
Eligible passengers will need to provide proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test, taken five days before travel, self-quarantine until their departure, take a rapid test at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — and test negative — before boarding.
Upon arrival at Schiphol Airport, passengers whose final destination is the Netherlands will need to take another PCR test, and with a negative result, they can bypass a 10-day quarantine. Results are usually back within a few hours.
The flights are part of a three-week trial program in partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, with each airline operating two flights per week. Delta flights will run Tuesdays and Fridays while KLM-operated flights will run Mondays and Wednesdays.
The Dutch government announced this travel corridor trial in early December.
The European Union still bans most nonessential travel from outside its member states, so the trial will be limited to eligible passengers. That includes passengers traveling for essential reasons such as work, health and education.
Passengers who are transiting through Amsterdam will still be required to follow entry requirements — including any mandated quarantine rules — at their final destination.
‘A pivotal moment’
Delta has worked with Atlanta’s airport, the Dutch government and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to provide this added layer of safety for passengers as they travel during a global pandemic.
“The start of these flights represents a pivotal moment in meaningfully restarting international travel,” said Steve Sear, president of International and executive vice president of Global Sales at Delta.
Sear said this kind of travel corridor — along with the safety protocols and hygiene measures taken on the flights — would give passengers and authorities more confidence that they can fly safely.
“This is a very important and great step forward. Until an approved working vaccine is available worldwide, this testing program represents the first step towards the international travel industry’s recovery,” said Pieter Elbers, president and CEO of KLM.
Eligible passengers will have the option to choose these special flights when purchasing tickets on Delta’s website and the Covid-19 tests taken at the airport are included in the ticket price.
Advisors from the Mayo Clinic have been involved in reviewing and assessing customer-testing protocols for Delta to operate the program.
This isn’t the only Covid-tested transatlantic flight from Delta that would allow passengers to skip self-quarantine. On Saturday a flight will go from Atlanta to Rome.
Passengers allowed to travel to Italy for essential reasons will be exempt from quarantine on arrival in Rome. These passengers will need to take a PCR test up to 72 hours before departure, then a rapid test at Atlanta’s airport before boarding, and another rapid test upon arrival in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.
If successful, Delta hopes to extend the program to other markets. Covid-tested flights and similar travel corridors are already gaining momentum.
Italy-based Alitalia carried out a similar flight last week from New York’s JFK to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport with multiple tests per passenger to bypass quarantine.
These testing protocols may become the new normal for air travel in the era of Covid-19. And this may very well be part of what has been needed by hesitant passengers, and an airline industry that’s been pummeled by the pandemic in 2020.
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