Italy national civil aviation authority (ENAC) on Wednesday threatened to suspend Ryanair’s permit to fly in the country over alleged non-compliance with coronavirus safety guidelines.
The Irish low-cost airline is repeatedly accused of ‘repeated violating the COVID-19 health regulations currently in force and imposed by the Italian government to protect the health of passengers’.
‘Not only is the obligation to distance passengers not respected, but the conditions for making an exception to that rule are also being ignored’, it said in a statement.
Though Italy’s civil aviation authority did not mention the specific breaches in their statement, they told reporters at le corriere that the low-cost airline have been failing to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.
They added that staff are not ensuring passengers maintain a distance of two metres on the aircraft, during boarding or at check in.
If Ryanair continued to break the rules ENAC would ‘suspend all air transport activities at national airports, requiring the carrier to re-route all passengers already in possession of tickets’.
Italy was the first European Union country to be seriously affected by the pandemic, which has officially killed over 35,000, but its contagion rate is currently far below levels seen in other parts of the bloc.
In a statement sent to MailOnline, Ryanair said the claims are ‘factually incorrect’ and that they ‘are doing everything to reduce interaction on both our aircraft and at airports to protect the health of our passengers when flying Ryanair.’
‘Ryanair is committed to the highest level of safety for our passengers and crew at all times,’ the statement reads.
‘Ryanair’s “Healthy Flying” procedures are in line with the safety recommendations & measures set out by the Italian Government and also the European Safety Agency (EASA) & European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).
‘These include:All passengers are encouraged to check-in online, and the boarding process is now contactless to avoid unnecessary contact at airports. Ryanair has also implemented specific boarding procedures to avoid unnecessary gathering of passengers both at boarding gates and onboard the aircraft.
‘Ryanair strictly limits carry-on baggage to further reduce passengers congregating while putting bags in overhead lockers. The airline operates a reduced in-flight service, accepts only contactless payments to minimise interaction between passengers and crew. On arrival, our crew instruct passengers on procedures to ensure that no unnecessary gathering occurs during disembarkation.
‘All Ryanair passengers and crew must wear facemasks at all times throughout the flight. All of our aircraft are fitted with state of the art HEPA filters – which remove airborne particles at a rate similar to hospital filtration systems.
Ryanair still maintained that the accusations by ENAC is false
“The claims made in ENAC’s press release today are factually incorrect. Ryanair complies fully with the measures set out by the Italian government and our customers can rest assured that we are doing everything to reduce interaction on both our aircraft and at airports to protect the health of our passengers when flying Ryanair.”