Covid-tested flights, which require all passengers to test negative for coronavirus in the 48 hours before boarding as well as taking another test on arrival, have already been operating between the US and Rome for just over two months.
Now the Italian Health Ministry has given permission for airlines to extend the service to Milan’s Malpensa airport, the second-biggest hub in Italy after Rome Fiumicino.
In a circular issued on March 10th, the ministry also extended the scheme until at least the end of June 2021, with the possibility of continuing it further.
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That means that until at least July, passengers will be able to fly from New York or Atlanta in the US to either Rome or Milan without having to quarantine for two weeks.
Italy’s international travel restrictions continue to apply, meaning that the only people eligible to fly from the US are those with an essential reason, such as returning to a permanent residence in Italy or to study or work.
Delta could start offering the service between Milan and New York as soon as this weekend, according to reports, while American Airlines is expected to follow next month.
The first Covid-tested flights proved so popular that the Italian government recently said it wanted to extend the scheme to other countries.
Italy’s last government had already signed off on Covid-tested flights between Italy and Germany, with Lufthansa originally slated to start running services from Frankfurt and Munich to Rome early this year, but those plans were put on hold when Germany went back into lockdown.
The scheme stands to make the biggest difference for travellers outside the European Union, who currently have to spend 14 days in quarantine if they come to Italy.
People arriving from other countries within the EU or Schengen zone – with the exception of Austria – can instead simply show a negative test result from the 48 hours before travel.
Italy has also begun experimenting with Covid-tested train travel, including introducing a high-speed connection between Rome and Milan next month that passengers will have to take a test to board. If successful, the scheme could also be extended to Florence, Venice and Naples.