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Italian airline begins ‘Covid-tested’ flights from Rome to Milan

Alitalia is offering two flights a day exclusively for passengers who have tested negative for coronavirus.

Italian airline begins 'Covid-tested' flights from Rome to Milan
Alitalia passengers have the option to get tested on departure at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The airline's 'Covid-tested' flights start on September 16th between Rome and Milan, with passengers offered a free rapid antigen test before they board.

While several Italian airports already provide testing for arriving passengers, it is the first time that departing passengers are also being urged to take a test.

The service, which is being trialled for a month but could be expanded, isn't required by any government restrictions but is instead designed to reassure travellers wary of flying.

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From now until October 16th, to board either of Alitalia's flights AZ 2038 (leaving at 13:30) or AZ 2092 (17:30) from Rome Fiumicino to Milan Linate, passengers must show proof that they have tested negative.

Passengers planning to take the test at Fiumicino airport are advised to arrive at least an hour and a half before their flight. They can go directly from the departures area to a testing centre in Terminal 3 (find a map here), where they will be given a nasal swab that can reveal within 30 minutes whether or not they have the coronavirus.

They must wait in the testing centre for the results: if it's negative they can proceed to the gate; if it's positive they'll be put in isolation, given a molecular (PCR) swab test to confirm the result and if necessary, instructed on quarantine procedures.


Passengers wait to be tested at Fiumicino airport in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Alternatively passengers can get tested before the day of their flight, in which case they'll need to bring with them to the airport the result of either a PCR or antigen swab test carried out no more than 72 hours earlier.

Passengers who don't want to get tested can switch to any of Alitalia's other Rome-Milan flights at no additional cost, while passengers who are denied boarding after testing positive can get a full refund.

Children under six are not obliged to take a test.

Fiumicino was one of the first airports in Italy to set up an onsite testing centre and has been commended by airport reviewer Skytrax for its Covid-19 safety measures, recently earning the site's only five-star rating of any airport in the world.

In addition to the testing facility in Terminal 3, Fiumicino also operates a 24-hour drive-through testing centre in its car park that is the largest of its kind in Italy.

Under the Italian government's current rules, getting a coronavirus test is mandatory for passengers arriving from Spain, Greece, Croatia or Malta.

Travellers from other countries are not required to get tested, nor does Italy oblige departing passengers to take a test.

READ ALSO: What to expect when you're flying to Italy

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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