British Airways, Ryanair, and Norwegian cancel flights to Italy

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A view of British Airways planes parked at London's Heathrow Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

Airlines are cancelling flights to Italy after the government in Rome put the country into lockdown on Monday evening.

British Airways, Ryanair, and Norwegian Airlines all announced flight cancellations on Tuesday, in response to the coronavirus lockdown across Italy.

The Italian government on Monday night put the entire country into lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Public spaces such as museums, schools, and pools will all be shut until further notice and Italians have been told to travel only for work, health, or emergencies.

BA said it was cancelling flights to and from Italy from today until 4 April. The airline said it took the decision “in light of the Italian Government's announcement and the UK Government's official travel advice”.

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“We have updated our policy to give customers more options and flexibility,” a British Airways spokesperson said. “Any travellers due to fly to or from Italy between now and 4 April can rebook to a later date up until the end of May, move their destination to Geneva or Zurich or receive a full refund.”

Travellers who require a refund can get in touch with the airline on 0800727800 with the details of their bookings.

Ryanair is cancelling all flights to Italy between 14 March and 9 April. Passengers stuck in Italy have until Friday to rebook on the final flights out of the country.

“Ryanair apologises sincerely to all customers for these schedule disruptions, which are caused by national government restrictions and the latest decision of the Italian government to lock down the entire country to combat the Covid-19 virus,” a spokesperson said.

Norwegian Airlines said in an update on its website it was “in the process of cancelling some flights as we adapt our schedule in accordance with the latest restrictions in Italy”, without giving details. Norwegian said it was contacting affected customers to offer them refunds or rebooking options. The airline is also waiving fees for changing some bookings.

Italy is facing the biggest outbreak of Covid-19 outside China. 9,172 cases have been recorded and 463 people have died from coronavirus in Italy, according to figures compiled by John Hopkins University.

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The global epidemic of novel coronavirus has caused huge disruption to the global travel and tourism industry.

EasyJet (EZJ.L) and Ryanair (RYA.L) have both cut back on service in the face of slumping demand and regional UK airline Flybe last week blamed coronavirus as it went bust. Virgin Atlantic has admitted it has been flying “almost empty” planes in a bid to keep airport slots, the BBC reported.

Norwegian said Tuesday it was cancelling 3,000 flights globally and laying off a “significant” proportion of staff in the face of slumping demand.