Catania airport ‘chaos’: What should passengers expect?

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Catania airport ‘chaos’: What should passengers expect?
Flights to and from Catania's Vincenzo Bellini airport were suspended after Etna's eruption. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Travellers to and from the Italian island of Sicily were still reporting a “nightmare” situation more than two weeks after a fire partially closed Catania’s airport.


After a major fire ripped through Catania airport on July 16th, the initial planned reopening date for the terminal buildings has been and gone and most flights scheduled from the airport were still being cancelled or diverted this week.

Some flights from the airport have now resumed, but there were reports of chaotic scenes and a lack of facilities for passengers as they queued under makeshift canvas shelters at the terminal this week.

With limited access for passengers to the airport’s Terminal C, and Terminal A still closed, many passengers were left queuing outside the airport building with no shade or toilet facilities, Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Passengers waiting for flights at the airport described the situation as "chaos" and a "nightmare", Corriere reported.

Passengers posting on social media said flight departures were announced, in Italian only, by staff using a megaphone or simply shouting near the terminal entrance as people queued outside.

The airport asked passengers departing from Catania not to arrive more than three hours before their flight because of the lack of space.

Anyone with a flight scheduled to depart from Catania was also advised to double check the status with their airline before setting off, with a large number of passengers saying they had missed their flights due to a lack of communication from airlines.

Some airlines, including Jet2, had cancelled all flights to and from Catania until August 3rd.

READ ALSO: Why are flights to and from Italy so expensive this summer?

Others including ITA and Ryanair were diverting flights to Palermo, Comiso or Trapani airports elsewhere on the island.


Catania airport has laid on buses to these airports leaving from outside the terminal - the schedules were being published daily on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

However, many passengers were reportedly only being told where their flight would arrive or depart from around 12 hours before they were due to fly.

Several passengers at Catania airport on Tuesday told Corriere they had found out less than two hours before their flight that it had been diverted to Trapani or Palermo, and they wouldn’t be able to get there in time.

Catania airport was operating at 50 percent of its usual capacity on Tuesday, with five flights departing every hour and five arriving.

Things were hoped to improve this week as a temporary terminal for departures was being set up by the Italian military, allowing more flights from the airport to resume.

The temporary terminal was being constructed under tents with facilities for check-in, security control and boarding, according to reports.

It remained unclear on Wednesday when Terminal A, where the fire happened, may be operational again. The airport had announced August 4th and 5th as likely reopening dates.

The airport’s management has faced widespread criticism over the situation and its impact on Sicily's tourism industry during the busiest weeks of the year.


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