Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Rome airport seeks to extend COVID-tested flights to more destinations

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An Alitalia plane is seen before take-off from the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

MILAN, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) aims to extend COVID-tested flights to more international destinations, including Japan and North America, its CEO said on Tuesday, in an expansion of a trial scheme that has been running since December.

AdR, part of Italian infrastructure group Atlantia (ATL.MI), has been offering COVID-tested flights on the Rome-New York and Rome-Atlanta routes in partnership with Alitalia (CAITLA.UL) and Delta Airlines (DAL.N).

As the end of the trial for these flights approaches, AdR, which manages Rome's Fiumicino airport, has asked Italy's government to extend it, CEO Marco Troncone said, presenting the project at a conference hosted by European airport lobby ACI Europe.

Troncone said: "We are working to obtain an extension of the trial phase beyond February 15 and to get more airlines, airports and institutions involved to promote effective, sustainable and homogeneous protocols across Europe".

New COVID-19 variants and delays in the roll-out of vaccination across the European Union has put additional pressure on airport operators, ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec, said, but added that Rome's project offered a glimpse of hope.

"We risk seeing tight restrictions and bans on travel remaining in place beyond the summer, including for intra-European travel," Jankovec said.

He suggested the aviation sector should work with European Union to find a viable alternative to tight travel restrictions.

The Rome airport is working to launch COVID-tested flights to more North American routes and to Japan and has asked the government to extend the trial to all the Italian airports.

The airport is also developing a travel health portal and implementing health pass solutions that can help to ensure the processing of negative test certificates before departure.

Troncone said the company was in talks with German carrier Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) over opening a "clean corridor" between Italy and Germany, something that has until now proved to be complicated.

The results of Rome airport project show that during the trial phase, only 5 passengers out of 3,824 proved COVID-19 positive.

Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Jane Merriman

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