Alitalia Could Deny Boarding If You Don’t Have A Mask

Alitalia is asking all passengers travelling aboard its planes to bring their own face masks in order to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. The airline says it will be asking passengers to wear face masks when flights are too full to enforce the 1-meter separation rule which has been recommended by the government.

The Airbus A320 of the Italian flag carrier
Alitalia is asking passengers to bring their own protective face wear. Photo: Getty Images

Yesterday, Alitalia published an announcement asking all passengers to bring their own face masks for flights. The airline has requested passengers wear protective face masks as a precaution to reduce transmission of coronavirus.

Alitalia’s face mask rule

Alitalia’s newly introduced guidelines on protective face masks have been introduced as a precaution to minimize the spread of COVID-19, which has proven to be highly-infectious. Although the disease doesn’t meet the criteria for a true airborne disease, it is spread via droplets of saliva or mucus when infected individuals sneeze or cough.

At the moment, it appears Alitalia will ask passengers to wear protective face masks when flights are too busy to maintain a 1-meter gap between individuals. This 1-meter gap has also been introduced in public queues and shops in Italy. The airline says that for the safety of those aboard its flights, it may deny entry to passengers who do not have their own protective face gear.

Although Alitalia is not able to provide protective face masks to its passengers, it has taken a number of precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 already. Cleaning schedules for Alitalia’s aircraft have been increased significantly. The airline says it now disinfects and sanitizes all surfaces within its aircraft’s cabins daily.

Alitalia Airbus A321
Flights to and from Milan have stopped altogether. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

As well as having HEPA filters on board its aircraft, Alitalia also says its staff are equipped with a range of emergency equipment and supplies on board each aircraft, including a biohazard kit for use in the event of a passenger displaying clear COVID-19 symptoms.

The current situation in Italy

From the initial COVID-19 outbreak in China, which then spread to other countries in Asia, the virus quickly made its way abroad. Now Europe, and especially Italy, is at the epicenter of the disease worldwide. Italy recently went into lockdown, suspending all but the most vital flights into and out of the country. Flights to and from Milan’s Malpensa airport have been suspended since 9 March.

Alitalia Airbus A320
An increasing number of countries are going into lockdown because of COVID-19. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia Commons

Even before the coronavirus outbreak hit, Italian airlines were having a tough time staying afloat. Back in February, Air Italy went into liquidation after the airline’s main stakeholder, the Aga Khan, decided to cut his mounting losses with the airline. Alitalia has also had a rough few years as it has struggled to find willing investors to take its financial burden away from the Italian government.

Depending on how Alitalia comes out at the other of the coronavirus lockdown, it may find itself in an even worse position than before. Luckily, the Italian government is perhaps a more reliable source of funding than private investors in trying times like these.