Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Flights to Italy axed as country goes into lockdown......

The entire European aviation industry seems to be in complete turmoil at the moment over the downturn in business caused by the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.  Many airlines air axing flights or cutting capacity. Whilst others are laying off staff or asking them to take unpaid leave as future bookings dry up and people stay home.

Italy has been put in almost complete lockdown this week due to the rapid spread of the virus and the rapidly climbing death toll.  As a result, many airlines are cutting services,  Ryanair will stop services to and from Italy from the end of this week un tile the beginning of April, British Airways will suspend routes until 4th April.   Budget carrier easyJet will operate a few rescue flights to pick up some stranded passengers, but otherwise all its Italian bound flights will halt between 10th Match and 3rd April.

Alitalia is operating a much-reduced schedule, with no international flights leaving from Milan. Norwegian is axing more than 3000 flights during the crisis.   Wizz Air is also further reducing the number of flights it operates to Italy.

Virgin Atlantic, as well as some other airlines, had been forced to continue to operate flights despite very few passengers in order to keep their expensive take-off and landing slots at airports because of special EU "use it or lose it" rules, which stipulate if they don't operate the services, the slots are lost.  But, on Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has promised they are looking at changing the law,  to allow airlines to suspend flights without risk of having the slots taken away from them "This is a temporary measure, and this temporary measure helps both our industry, but it also helps our environment, - It will relieve the pressure on the aviation industry and in particular, on smaller airline companies. But it will also decrease emissions by avoiding so-called ghost flights."

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