COVID-19: Italian regulator threatens Ryanair with flight ban
The Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile (ENAC), the Italian civil aviation authority, is threatening to suspend Ryanair flights over non-compliance with the health measures put in place in the country to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ENAC revealed it sent a letter to the low-cost carrier and informed the Irish regulator of the “repeated violations of anti-COVID health regulations” currently imposed by the Italian government to protect the health of passengers.
Measures include social distancing at airports when checking in, at boarding gates, or on shuttles carrying passengers to and from the terminal. Airlines are also responsible for making sure that staff and passengers wear masks throughout flights, changing them every four hours for long journeys. "Not only is the obligation to distance passengers not respected, but the conditions for making an exception to that rule are also being ignored", it said in a statement.
If Ryanair does not comply, the ENAC could lower the occupancy of flights by 50%, or even "apply the provisions of the navigation code (art. 802 - ban on departure) and impose the suspension of all air transport activities at national airports, asking the carrier to ensure the re-routing of all passengers already in possession of tickets.”
The low-cost carrier denied the “factually incorrect” accusations, arguing that it fully complies with the measures set out by the Italian government. “Our customers can rest assured that we are doing everything to reduce interaction on both our aircraft and at airports to protect the health of our passengers when flying Ryanair," it added in a statement to the press. Since 2012, Ryanair is the first airline in Italy by capacity. The country, which has been one of the first to be hit by the pandemic in Europe and recorded 35,000 victims to date, seems to have successfully stabilized the situation.
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