In an effort to revive dwindling sales and weakening travel demand, Delta Airlines is proactively pursuing strategies to alleviate the effects of the pandemic, while awaiting the arrival of a vaccine, to get markets to recover.
In recent weeks, the US airline carrier has announced a new passenger contact tracing initiative, as well as a quarantine-free travel program between the US and Italy, in order to reduce traveler concerns about flying.
Adding on to these programs, Delta, in partnership with KLM, has announced the launch of quarantine-free flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam, effective December 15.
The move is made to encourage worry-free flying and bolster American travel in Europe once again.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines President and CEO, Pieter Elbers, echoed this sentiment, stating:
“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.”
About the Program
As the Netherlands borders are currently closed for non-essential travel, only eligible travelers can partake in the program.
Essential criteria for travel to the Netherlands include specified work, health and medical reasons.
The flights will operate four times per week, between Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
The program will be conducted on a trial basis, set to operate for a three-week period from the effective start date, and if successful, the airlines intend to extend the program, as well as expand the model to other markets.
Travelers wishing to participate in the program may find the option when booking their ticket online.
All passengers welcome aboard the flight must have negative test results.
For those that are not interested in the program, alternative flights to Amsterdam, not implementing COVID-19 tests, are also available.
Testing to Remove Quarantine Requirements
In order to facilitate travelers with quarantine-free travel, the program will involve comprehensive testing procedures.
Travelers partaking in these flights will be required to take a COVID-19 PCR test five days before their departure. Upon testing negative for this initial test, the travelers would be advised to self-isolate until the departure date.
The traveler will need to retake a COVID-19 PCR test prior to boarding the flight in Atlanta, and a final time upon arrival at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
Without the program, the current entry requirements for the Netherlands necessitate incoming travelers to quarantine for 10 days.
Testing Takes Precedence While Vaccine on the Horizon
As long as the pandemic continues to affect everyday life, the airlines industry will be faced with tackling a substantial burden.
While a COVID-19 vaccination is still in the works, each passing day that goes by without it leaves the industry vulnerable.
Subsequently, the airlines industry is looking to testing as a temporary solution.
COVID-19 testing is becoming more prevalent across airports, while many US states are offering visitors the option to take a test instead of quarantining.
Many countries are also accepting testing as a method to change the quarantine requirements for entry.
Additionally, the CDC recently announced new guidelines for shorter quarantines if testing is done.
It appears, for the time being, testing is becoming more widespread while the arrival of a vaccines approaches.
However, as the new Delta-KLM initiative is only scheduled for trial, it remains to be seen how effective it is in enticing travelers, and how likely they are to choose taking three COVID tests in order to avoid a quarantine.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories