UK airlines have confirmed they are cancelling flights to and from northern Italy as the country faces lockdown after the spread of COVID-19.
EasyJet told Sky News several flights are being cancelled and other routes will face a reduced service in light of the quarantine implemented by the Italian authorities yesterday.
British Airways said it is “reviewing its schedule” and Jet2 confirmed on its Twitter feed it has cancelled flights to Venice.
Meanwhile Alitalia stated it has cancelled all flights to and from Milan Malpensa airport today.
It comes as Italian health officials confirmed yesterday the country’s total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 7,375.
The Foreign Office has said British nationals are able to leave Italy without restriction, however it advises against “all but essential travel” to the following places: “Lombardy region (which includes the cities of Milan, Bergamo, Como) and the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini (all in Emilia Romagna); Pesaro e Urbino (in Marche); Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli (all in Piemonte); Padova. Treviso and Venice (in Veneto).”
An advice page has been created on the Foreign Office’s website for Britons who are living in Italy or who have flown over for a holiday or business.
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Advice from Public Health England issued last night urges people who have travelled from all areas of Italy to the UK in the last 14 days to self-isolate if they have symptoms.
Image: Tourists wearing protective respiratory masks tour outside the Colosseo monument
It adds: “For areas with direct flights to the UK we are carrying out enhanced monitoring. Passengers will be told how to report any symptoms they develop during the flight, at the time of arrival, or after leaving the airport.”
When asked “enhanced monitoring” means, PHE said:
Cabin crew are briefed on symptoms and what to do if someone reports that they have symptoms
The captain calls ahead to warn of any illness on the flight to allow for early risk assessment by public health teams
If anyone on the flight is symptomatic, a general aircraft declaration (GAD) must be submitted to allow for a public health risk assessment and any required action to be taken before disembarkation
Information on symptoms and necessary actions provided to patients whilst on the flight and/or upon landing. This includes Italy specific posters and leaflets highlighting specific areas
All flights arriving from Italy are met with PHE posters and leaflets at ports in 9 different languages as well as established local arrangements for ensuring unwell passengers are taken care of
In addition, a bespoke poster for Italy has been sent to all airports, seaports and international train terminals to provide clarity to passengers on which areas of Italy are affected. There is also public health campaign at ports for clear messages on how to prevent the spread of the virus through hand washing.
This process has been in place for northern Italy since 4 March and will be rolled out across the country over the next two days.
Here is what the airlines are saying:
“Following a decree issued by the Italian authorities implementing further restrictions for anyone living in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces in Italy, easyJet in common with a number of other airlines is reviewing its flying programme to Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports for the period from now until 3 April 2020.
“In the short-term we will be cancelling a number of flights to and from these destinations on Monday 9 March. We will be advising all affected passengers of the cancellations by email and SMS.
“Customers on flights scheduled to operate to and from these airports will be given the option of a full refund or to change their flight.
“We expect to continue to reduce the number of flights in and out of Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports in the period up to 3 April and will provide a further update on our schedule in due course.
“Whilst these circumstances are outside of our control, we apologise to all affected customers for any inconvenience caused.”
“We are following guidelines issued by the Italian government and the World Health Organisation.”
Image: A map issued by Public Health England on 8 March showing the different areas that are category 1 and category 2 in Italy
“Following the change to the UK government travel advice for Northern Italy, we are reviewing our schedule, and have contacted all customers who are due to travel today.
“We are also offering customers booked to fly before April 2, the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.”
Following update from the FCO advising against all but essential travel to Venice, we are contacting customers who are due to travel to Venice, to offer a suitable alternative (where available) or a refund. 1/2 #Venice
— Jet2tweets (@jet2tweets) March 8, 2020
“We always follow the travel advice of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), who are currently advising against all but essential travel to Venice.
“As such, we are contacting customers who are due to travel to Venice, to offer a suitable alternative (where available) or a refund. We are also contacting our customers who are currently in Venice, to arrange to fly them back to the UK. The health and safety of our customers is always our number one priority.”
“During the period indicated by the decree, therefore until 3 April, Alitalia will operate the following changes at flights. The airline will operate from 9 March only national services from Milan Linate airport, reducing the number of flights on the domestic routes, while services on international routes will be guaranteed via Rome Fiumicino airport.
“As from 9 March, the Italian airline will suspend any national and international service to and from Milan Malpensa airport. The last Alitalia service for Milan Malpensa airport will be flight AZ 605 from New York which will land in Malpensa at 10:40 am [on March 9].
“Furthermore, Alitalia will continue to operate flights between Venice and Rome with a reduction in number of services.
“Alitalia is offering to travellers affected by reorganisation of flights change fee waiver for rebooking their travel, as described on alitalia.com website.”
Source : Sky News