And it's in a former epicenter of the pandemic.

By Cailey Rizzo
September 16, 2020
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Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is the first in the world to be awarded a five-star COVID-19 rating from Skytrax, an international airline and airport rating organization.

The airport was awarded five stars based on its response to the pandemic, which includes cleaning and disinfecting procedures and consistency, social distancing policies, and implementation and availability of face masks, hand sanitizer, and availability of PPE. The rating system is carried out by an audit team that performs inspections at each airport.

“Rome Fiumicino Airport has done an excellent job in delivering COVID-19 protocols that enable a safe environment for customers and staff,” Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted said in a statement. “In the core areas of hand hygiene and social distancing the airport has robust procedures in place, and importantly, this is being reinforced by a high-level of attention to terminal sanitization at high-contact points. It is the consistency of these measures that is also notable, and this is an essential factor behind Rome Fiumicino Airport being the first airport in the world to receive the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating.”

Earlier this month, Fiumicino — which is Italy’s busiest airport — opened a 7,000-square-foot COVID testing center, managed in cooperation with the Italian Red Cross. In high traffic areas, an in-house bio-safety team of 40 people enforce social distancing rules and ensure that everyone is wearing a face mask.

Italy was once considered an epicenter of the coronavirus and currently has close to 300,000 cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Skytrax’s rating system considers five stars a place with “very high standards of airport cleanliness and maintenance procedures.” Four stars mean “good” and three is “average.” A ranking of two stars indicates that the airport’s COVID procedures “need work.”

Thierry Monasse/Getty

Only a few airports have so far been inspected by Skytrax. The other airports that have so far been reviewed — London Heathrow, Malaga Costa del Sol, and Nice Cote d’Azur — were awarded three stars each. The complete list of rankings is available online and will be updated as international borders reopen and inspectors visit more airports around the globe.

Skytrax also establishes a list of the world’s best airports every year but this year’s ranking was canceled due to the pandemic. For the past eight consecutive years, Singapore Changi Airport has won the top honor.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at caileyrizzo.com.