Calls for airlines to refund passengers amid Italy lockdown

Venice is among the cities under lockdown.Venice is among the cities under lockdown.
Venice is among the cities under lockdown.
Consumer groups have called on airlines to consider refunding or rescheduling passengers booked to go to Italy in the coming weeks.

Which? urged airlines to waive change fees or allow cancellations for people who already have flights booked to the European country, which this morning put 16 million of its citizens under lockdown in a bid to control the coronavirus outbreak.

Italian authorities have said that no-one can leave three northern regions of the country without special permission, however, flights from airports including Venice and Milan appeared to be running as normal today - including flights to Scotland.

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Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country. The measures will last until 3 April.

EasyJet wrote on its website: “We are aware of the latest Italian media reports of local government plans to introduce restrictions in the Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions including Milan and Venice.

“However, we have had confirmation that currently our operations to and from Milan-Malpensa, Milan-Linate and Venice airports are not affected and we plan to operate our flight schedule as normal.”

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “Travellers will be increasingly worried by the severe restrictions the Italian government is now planning to introduce across the region, including Milan and Venice.

“The situation is being worsened by a lack of clear information for passengers, who are being left with the option of either taking their flight to a potentially quarantined area or cancelling altogether and losing their money.”

He added: “Airlines must do the right thing and allow passengers, who will understandably not want to travel, to cancel for a full refund, or rebook at a later date or on a different flight.”

Ryanair said last week that it would cancel up to 25 per cent of all Italian short-haul flights for a three week period amid decreased demand.

Romania today became the latest government to ban large scale events in the wake of the outbreak, decreeing that any gathering of more than 1,000 people should be called off.