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A Ryanair 737-800 aircraft approaches Barcelona Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derricksonn)

Italian Authorities Threaten to Ban Ryanair Over COVID-19 Procedures

The largest low-cost carrier in Europe has been told it may face restrictions or even a ban on its flights to Italy should it be found to flout safety rules relating to COVID-19. Irish carrier Ryanair has been specifically mentioned by Italian authorities over its apparent failure to follow rules set out by the government to protect passengers on board.

Enac, the Italian civil aviation authority, said a temporary flight ban for the airline is under consideration after reports of repeatedly violating COVID-19 procedures.

“Repeated violations of the Covid-19 health regulations currently in force and imposed by the Italian government to protect the health of passengers,” the authority said in a written statement.

In response to the accusation, a Ryanair spokesperson rejected the Italian authority’s argument and said the airline continues to operate up to the necessary standards.

“Ryanair is committed to the highest level of safety for our passengers and crew at all times,” the spokesperson said in a prepared statement. “The claims made 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.”

According to reports made by Italian media outlets briefed by insiders at Enac, cabin crew onboard flights operated by Ryanair have failed to enforce the wearing of masks by passengers onboard. Also, rules relating to staggering passenger disembarkation have reportedly not been followed correctly.

“Not only is the obligation to distance passengers not respected, but the conditions for making an exception to that rule are also being ignored,” Enac said in a statement.

The airline normally operates out of 25 airports across Italy, a country that has seen more than 35,000 people die and 250,000 people infected by the virus.

The Italian authorities warned Ryanair that, should it continue to not strictly enforce the rules in place, it could restrict the number of passengers the airline can fly in and out of the country or even suspend all flights connected to Italy.

Another European carrier, Wizz Air, has also been threatened by authorities relating to COVID-19 procedures. On Aug. 1, Greek aviation authorities put a temporary landing ban on Wizz flights due to land at Athens after the airline was found to not have checked its passengers having the correct locator forms required to enter the country. Initially, the ban would last for 12 days, but an agreement between airline and authority saw the ban lifted a day later.

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