November 8, 2021
Thank you, Ivan, and thank you to our colleagues from the airlines. And good morning! It is a real pleasure to be here with representatives from United and Delta airlines and with our good friends from the Aeroporti di Roma who, over the past 21 months have done such impressive work under very difficult circumstances – work that has facilitated travel while safeguarding public health, including the health and safety of the traveling public. There are many who deserve thanks for their contributions, including the airlines and Aeroporti di Roma. But first I want to highlight the important role Aeroporti di Roma has played since the onset of the pandemic – both here at Fiumicino and at Ciampino – working in close coordination with Italy’s Ministry of Health, the Department of Civil Protection, and the aviation sector. We also owe thanks to the thousands of airport workers, security staff, and transportation providers — the bus,
taxi, and limousine operators and rail workers — serving the airport. Their efforts, too, have kept travelers safe. We at the U.S. Embassy are highly appreciative of the special contributions of Fiumicino Airport’s Frontier Police who, throughout the pandemic, provided invaluable assistance in helping some American citizens, Americans who found themselves in crisis, depart Italy and return safely to the United States.
Another word about the airlines and Aeroporti di Roma, which played such a leading role in keeping the Transatlantic Corridor open during the pandemic through its early advocacy and support for the concept of “COVID-tested flights.” Alitalia flights between Milan and Rome were the initial test and then, of course, Alitalia and Delta Airlines started COVID-free flights across the Atlantic, giving travelers on the Rome-New York and Rome-Atlanta routes that option. Here in Italy, Aeroporti di Roma’s initiative, working in association with the Ministry of Health and local health authorities, to test passengers on outbound and inbound flights, was a key element in assuring government authorities, passengers, and crew that flying could be safe, despite the pandemic.
And, of course, it also was important to economic health, especially the economic health of the aviation sector. There were others in the aviation sector collaborating on addressing COVID concerns, and there other actions taken that served to restore confidence in air travel. Among these were technical studies that demonstrated that in-flight mask wearing and more frequent refreshing of cabin air also contributed to safer air travel. So thanks to Aeroporti di Roma, the airlines, and all the others who worked together to achieve this success.
Today the United States inaugurates a new policy that will further enhance the health and safety of air travelers to the United States, as well as the health and safety of the communities they visit. The updated policy puts in place an international travel system that is guided by public health recommendations and consistent across the globe.
A key aspect of the new policy is that international air travelers to the United States must provide proof that they have been vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Travelers must provide this proof prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the United States. This requirement is in addition to the existing requirement for each passenger to take a COVID test within three days of departure for the United States, and receive negative test results. Although I won’t go into detail, I want to emphasize that, consistent with the spirit of this new U.S. policy, COVID-related requirements for U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of the United States also have been strengthened.
With the new policy in place, the task now is to faithfully implement it. I know that our Administration has been working closely with the airlines on this – striving to ensure full implementation of all the new requirements.
In closing, let me say that we are thrilled that Italian visitors will once again be able to travel to the United States to see family and friends, conduct business, or simply go on holiday. To those travelling, whether today or later: You are welcome in the United States! And, especially to those traveling on today’s departing flights, we say, “Bon Voyage!” Buon viaggio! Have a good trip!