Beginning Dec. 15, Delta and KLM are launching COVID-tested flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam, meaning eligible passengers who have negative PCR test results prior to travel will be exempt from quarantine on arrival after on landing in the Netherlands.
The airline partners, in coordination with the Dutch government, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, have set up the pre-travel testing initiative, the latest in a series of such programs aimed at demonstrating to governments that testing is more effective than quarantines.
Delta has already announced plans to offer a trial of COVID-free flights between Atlanta and Rome beginning Dec. 19.
As with that flight, passengers on the ATL-AMS services will need to satisfy certain criteria:
Take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 5 days before arrival in Amsterdam.
Take a rapid antigen prior to boarding at the Atlanta airport.
Take a PCR test directly upon arrival at Schiphol.
Entry requirements for the Netherlands normally include 10 days of quarantine. However, by completing a negative PCR test five days before arrival in the Netherlands and self-isolating until departure, customers can choose to complete the quarantine ahead of their departing flight. No quarantine will be required upon arrival once the customer tests negative via a second PCR test at Schiphol airport.
The new flight will operate four times per week from Atlanta to Amsterdam, with Delta and KLM operating two frequencies each. Only passengers with negative test results will be allowed board. The flights will initially run for three weeks and, if successful, the airlines hope to extend the program to other markets.
Customers will be able to choose the COVID-tested flights when they purchase their tickets online or opt for one of the alternative Delta or KLM daily flights between Atlanta and Amsterdam that are not covered within the trial program.
This new protocol will be available to all citizens permitted to travel to the Netherlands for essential reasons, such as for certain specified work, health and education reasons Customers who are transiting via Amsterdam to other countries will still be required to follow entry requirements and any mandatory quarantine in place at their final destination.
“Until an approved working vaccine is available worldwide, this testing program represents the first step towards the international travel industry’s recovery,” said Pieter Elbers, president and CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. “All stakeholders need to work together on a systematic approach to rapid testing and build these tests into the passenger experience, so quarantine measures can be lifted as quickly as possible. This is fundamental to restore passengers’ and governments’ confidence in air travel.”
Royal Schiphol group CEO Dick Benschop added, “This is an important step to validate that test regimes make safe and responsible air travel possible while reducing the need for travel bans and long quarantine measures. We thank the Dutch government and our partners.”