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.


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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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”