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Delta Operates First COVID-Free Flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam
On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Delta Air Lines operated its first COVID-free flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Amsterdam Schipol Airport. The flight is designated for customers with essential travel needs, such as work, health and education, and requires passengers to receive three negative PCR tests to enter the Netherlands without quarantine. The flight is the first of two trans-Atlantic COVID-free flights the carrier is operating this week. The second is a flight from Atlanta to Rome–Fiumicino International Airport that will launch on Dec. 19. Both can be booked on delta.com.
According to Delta, the flights will operate over a three-week trial period in conjunction with its Dutch partner KLM. Both airlines will operate the flight twice a week, with Delta flying on Tuesdays and Fridays and KLM flying on Mondays and Wednesdays. The departure and arrival times are as follows:
- DL76 will leave Atlanta at 21:55 and arrive in Amsterdam at 12:10 the next day.
- KLM0632 will leave Atlanta at 22:10 and arrive in Amsterdam at 12:10 the next day.
Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s Senior Vice President-Alliances and International, commented on the flights, saying, “Air travel is the backbone of the global economy. In normal times, it supports more than 87 million jobs and contributes to $3.5 trillion in GDP worldwide. The arrival of a vaccine is fantastic news, but it will take time for it to become widely available around the world. It’s for this reason we have worked tirelessly with the authorities and our partners to create a blueprint for travel corridors that will enable air travel to safely resume.
Testing Process and Delta’s Health Safety Standards
The testing process for both flights to Amsterdam and Rome involved multiple COVID-19 tests before and after the flight. Delta has teamed up with Mayo Clinic to ensure all customer-testing protocols are met for the carrier to conduct these types of flights. Required testing for flights to Amsterdam and Rome have slightly different requirements, but both meet the standards recommended by experts.
- Atlanta-Amsterdam: passengers must obtain a negative PCR COVID-19 test five days before arriving in the Netherlands. They must also receive a negative rapid test at Atlanta airport before boarding and then complete a second PCR test at Schipol Airport after arrival. If that test comes back negative, they will not need to quarantine.
- Atlanta-Rome: passengers must obtain a negative PCR COVID-19 test 72 hours before their flight’s scheduled departure. They must also receive a negative rapid test at Atlanta airport before boarding and then complete a second rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino Airport after arrival. If that test comes back negative, they will not need to quarantine.
Mayo Clinic’s Chief Value Officer, Henry Ting, M.D., M.B.A., explained, “Based on the modeling we have conducted, when the recommended testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million.”
Delta meets Mayo Clinic’s recommendation for in-flight health safety, including vigorous mask-wearing, electrostatic cleaning and blocking the middle seat, which is imperative for these flights to work. Furthermore, the airline is also the first U.S. carrier to partner with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to keep international customers informed about COVID-19 exposure through contact tracing, which also began on Tuesday. Contact tracing will involve asking all customers traveling internationally to the United States to provide five pieces of information – name, email, address in the U.S., primary phone and secondary phone. The request is voluntary but will aid Delta in public health follow-up efforts.
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