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Airlines try COVID-19 tested transatlantic flights to build confidence

·1-min read
Cool boxes are seen at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, on Friday said it would begin offering COVID-19 tested flights to Atlanta, the latest example of a European airline adopting a testing strategy to increase passenger confidence in flying amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The plans centre around the concept of conducting multiple tests so that travellers can have more trust that the chances they or others are carrying the virus during their voyage are small.

Under the KLM plan, passengers receive one test five days before their flight, another shortly before the flight, and a third after landing.

"Only passengers with negative test results will be accepted on-board," KLM said in a statement.

After testing negative again upon arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, U.S. and European Union passengers travelling from Atlanta will be able to skip a 5-day quarantine in the Netherlands.

Alitalia announced a similar scheme for Rome to New York flights earlier on Friday, and Delta last week introduced one from Atlanta to Rome. Delta, Air France and Alitalia cooperate under the "SkyTeam" airline alliance.

The KLM flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam will run four times a week starting from Dec. 15, the company said, adding that it intends to adopt the system more widely if it is successful.

"Until an approved working vaccine is available worldwide, this testing program represents the first step towards the international travel industry’s recovery," KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said in a statement.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling, editing by Louise Heavens)