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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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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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