Ryanair threatened with Italy flight ban over ‘lax’ social distancing rules

Officials from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are warning Ryanair that they are considering banning the airline from flying into Italy. In a letter to Ryanair, the Italian CAA condemned the budget carrier for their “lax” handling of coronavirus measures.

According to reports, passengers and crew have been flouting face mask guidelines with little consequence and overcrowding onboard transfer buses and at departure gates have been flagged.

The air travel body threatened to cut flights to Italy if the airline did not “rectify the situation”.

Meanwhile, recent reports by passengers on Twitter further emphasise the Italian CAA’s complaints.

One Twitter user wrote: “I was recently flying from #Brussels to #Krakow with #Ryanair and there was no social distancing at the plane.

“The crew was selling food and drinks as usual. The plane was full of people. “Apart from the obligation to wear a face mask, everything looks like before pandemic.” [SIC]

A second added: “Flown London to Stockholm last week. Face mask compliance was good but NO staggered disembarkation. Easy to organise so why not do it?” [SIC]

In a statement, the Italian body said: “There has been repeated violation of anti-COVID-19 health measures drafted by the Italian government and in force to protect passengers’ health.

“If the company does not rectify the situation we will impose the suspension of all air-transport activity in national airports.”

Ryanair claims face masks are mandatory for both its staff and crew as part of its new, heightened safety measures.

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Defending the airline’s COVID-19 policy, a Ryanair spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Ryanair is committed to the highest level of safety for our passengers and crew at all times.

“Ryanair’s “Healthy Flying” procedures are in line with the safety recommendations & measures set out by the Italian Government and also the European Safety Agency (EASA) & European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).”

They added: “The claims made in ENAC’s press release today are factually incorrect. Ryanair complies fully with the measures set out by the Italian government and 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.”

Measures include encouraging passengers to utilise online check-in and a new “contactless” boarding process.

The airline also claims to have implemented “specific boarding procedures to avoid unnecessary gathering of passengers both at boarding gates and onboard the aircraft.”

What’s more, the spokesperson emphasised the Irish-carrier’s stance on face masks.

“All Ryanair passengers and crew must wear face masks at all times throughout the flight,” said the spokesperson.

In a bid to ensure social distancing, the airline is also limiting hand luggage to “reduce passengers congregating while putting bags in overhead lockers” and operating a reduced inflight service, taking only contactless payments.

All aircraft are also reported to be fitted with HEPA filters, which the spokesperson clarified “remove airborne particles at a rate similar to hospital filtration systems”.

Ryanair remains certain that flights will continue to run to Italy.

If flights were to be cancelled by the airline, Ryanair would be responsible for offering a refund to customers, though it may take longer than usual given the current pandemic.

Ryanair currently operates out of more than 25 Italian destinations.

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