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TRAVEL: How many flights are still available between the UK and Italy?

Further flight cancellations on routes between the UK and Italy this week have caused more frustration for those trying to visit family, attend events, or visit holiday homes.

TRAVEL: How many flights are still available between the UK and Italy?
Photo: Niklas HALLEN/AFP

Just as Italy had begun opening up to summer travel and easing many of its health measures in recent weeks, the rising coronavirus infection rate in the UK has led to new restrictions followed by scores of recent flight cancellations.

Travel between the two countries is now set to become even more difficult as Italy announced on Friday it would be bringing in a new five-day quarantine and testing requirement for UK travellers amid concern about the spread of the Delta variant.

Many people trying to fly this month had already reported a lack of flights on many UK-Italy routes, and there have been widespread reports of last-minute cancellations this week after the British government’s decision to push back its so-called ‘Freedom Day’ – when the last remaining Covid-19 restrictions were to be lifted in the country – by four weeks due to the worsening health situation.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy: What’s the risk of another Covid-19 surge?

Italy is on the UK’s ‘amber’ list for travel, which means travel is possible but passengers must present a pre-departure test result and then quarantine at home for 10 days upon arrival in England, Wales or Scotland.  In addition, PCR tests are required on days two and eight of quarantine.

While the British government has stressed that people should not be booking holidays to amber list countries at the moment, many people – particularly those with family abroad – have still been hoping to make long-postponed trips to visit loved ones or attend weddings and other events.

“I am desperately trying to get home to Wales so my family can meet my little boy who is already seven months old. I’ve had my flights cancelled from Rome to Bristol with easyJet three times,” said reader Amy Ceccarelli. “There has never been an explanation,”

Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

One reader with a home in Italy, Sue, emailed to say she had to rush back to the UK after all Ryanair flights on her route were cancelled for the next few weeks.

“Thanks to seeing your article I looked at our flights and saw they were cancelled. We have had no choice but to now leave Italy and return to London for fear of being stuck,” Sue said.

“Rather disappointed as we were here to bring money into our local village and carry out maintenance on our holiday home.”

READ ALSO: All Italian regions but one to drop Covid restrictions from Monday as infection rate falls further

The Local understands that airlines including Ryanair, Easyjet, British Airways and Vueling have cancelled flights between the two countries.

Travel provider TUI also announced last week that it was cancelling dozens of holiday routes from the UK until mid-July “due to ongoing uncertainty around travel”. Italy is included on TUI’s list of suspended countries until July 4th.

A spokesperson for EasyJet told the Local this week that “due to the recent UK government decision not to further open up international travel for the summer we have been required to evaluate our schedule in line with where we see the restrictions impacting demand.”

Ryanair and British Airways have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

What can I do if my flight is cancelled?

On its website, EasyJet states that passengers who had their flights cancelled could either rebook for a different Easyjet flight, accept a voucher or take a refund, while Ryanair also says it offers the chance to rebook your flight for free or accept a refund.

If you need to travel, make sure you book outbound and return flights with the same airline. If your outbound flight with one airline gets cancelled, but the return flight is still scheduled with another airline, then you may not be able to get a refund or free flight change from the second airline. 

How many flights are still operating?

Across the board, UK-Italy flights appear to be running on reduced schedules. 

Some routes, while not cancelled entirely, show no booking availability at all until after July 19th – the date of the next stage of the UK’s reopening.

And on some routes which are still open for bookings, it appears that the number of flights has been cut drastically as demad plummets.

However, some people who still need to travel in the coming days or weeks are reporting that flights on certain routes still appear to be going ahead, even if on a reduced schedule.

“I’ve now booked with BA to fly from Rome to Heathrow, as every time I check the daily arrivals, at least one plane arrives from Rome into Heathrow with BA,” said Amy.

“Keeping everything crossed but it seems airlines are very reluctant to give out too much information.”

Italy has reopened to tourism from many countries and dropped almost all of its domestic health measures this month. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Flights between London’s Stansted and Heathrow airports and many Italian cities, including Bari and Genoa, were still available to book on Friday.

From Manchester airport, there were two flights a week available to the Italian airports of Milan Malpensa, Bergamo, and Naples.

However, there appear to be few flights available from other airports in England to Italian cities other than Rome.

Direct flights to central and northern Italian cities like Bologna, Venice, Pisa and Verona are also currently difficult to find.

Flights to the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, popular destinations for UK holidaymakers, are currently available to book in the coming weeks – though this may be about to change after Italy announced the new quarantine requirement for UK travellers on Friday.

While it may be possible to fly indirectly via other European countries, passengers should also check for any entry restrictions placed on UK travellers by other countries at the moment.

Travel via France for example may be an option, despite the country placing new restrictions on arrivals from the UK. Passengers can still transit through the country (for no more than 24 hours) without needing to follow French quarantine rules – though no doubt taking this route will add an extra layer of complication and cost.

People arriving in Italy from the UK by car and via other countries are still required to quarantine for five days and show a negative test result on arrival in Italy.

When will it be safe to book flights between Italian and UK airports again?

Reports indicate that airlines that have been cancelling flights for several weeks will continue to do so up until at least mid-July, so booking a flight between now and then looks risky.

Italy’s new five-day quarantine and testing requirement for UK travellers is in place until at least July 30th. Ongoing concern over the Delta variant, which has not yet taken hold in Italy, means it is possible that the measure could be extended beyond that date.

The next UK government review of its traffic light system is expected to be on June 24th, and hopes have been high that Italy would be added to the ‘green list’ on this date.

However, lowered restrictions in the UK will be little help to travellers if there are few flights available and restrictions remain in place on the Italian side.

Anyone who has an upcoming trip booked is advised to consult their operator on the status of their flights.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website.

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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”