Ryanair has suspended all flights to, from and within Italy, where the whole country is currently on lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The budget airline announced that international flights will be suspended from midnight Friday March 13 until midnight on April 8.
It said anyone wishing to be repatriated to the UK can be moved onto an earlier flight this week, at no cost, but they must act quickly to get booked on one before they stop running on Friday at midnight.
Domestic flights will be halted from midnight tomorrow also until April 8.
Affected passengers will be able to choose between a full refund or a travel credit that can be redeemed on Ryanair flights in the next 12 months, added the airline.
A statement reads: ‘All affected passengers have received email notices today informing them of these flight cancellations.
‘Passengers looking for repatriation can obtain a free move to an earlier Ryanair flight operating up until midnight Fri 13 Mar.
‘Ryanair continues to comply fully with WHO and national Government guidance and travel bans.
‘The situation is changing on a daily basis, and all passengers on flights affected by travel bans or cancellations, are receiving emails and are being offered flight transfers, full refunds or travel credits.
‘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.’
As of Tuesday, the Spanish government has also suspended all direct flights between Spain and Italy amid the crisis. The suspension will take effect from midnight until March 25.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has warned against all but essential travel to the country. There are currently 9,172 cases of Covid-19, meaning the nation now has the largest amount of infected people outside of China. In total, 463 people have died of the virus in Italy.
The move comes after British Airways also cancelled flights on Tuesday morning.
A spokesperson for BA said: ‘In light of the Italian government’s announcement and the UK government’s official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today (10 March).’
The country-wide lockdown meant 60 million people woke up under quarantine today, while a ban on public gatherings has been implemented. Schools, gyms, pubs, and theatres are closed and weddings and funerals will not be able to take place until after April 3.
Around 3 million British nationals visit Italy every year. Anyone returning from Italy to the UK will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte said public transport will remain open during the lockdown.
‘There won’t be just a red zone,’ he told reporters, referring to a lockdown of areas in northern Italy instituted over the weekend. ‘There will be Italy as a protected area,’ he said.
This is a breaking news story, more to follow…
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