**Update: 05/25/20 @ 16:25 UTC – A Eurowings spokesperson shared information on what happened; details below**
Yesterday, a Eurowings flight was heading to Olbia, Sardinia from Düsseldorf, Germany. However, as the Airbus A320 approached the Italian island, it had to divert back because the aircraft’s crew learned that Olbia Airport is still closed.
Aviation24 reports that the Italian Ministry for Infrastructure and Transport did reopen the airport for commercial air travel. With the country entering phase two of its coronavirus emergency handling, certain measures are under review.
However, only a few hours after the announcement was made, this decision was reversed. Subsequently, the crew on flight EW9844 departed at 06:21 on Saturday, thinking that they have been cleared for entry.
The plane, with registration number D-AEWJ, entered a holding pattern northeast Sardinia. According to FlightRadar24.com, the jet remained at 1,720 meters above sea level, with an average speed of 430 kilometers per hour for forty minutes. After confirming that there won’t be any clearance, the crew turned back to Düsseldorf. Just over four hours after leaving the German airport, it returned at 10:25.
There was notification
Altogether, Eurowings did not get permission to land at Olbia Airport due to the restrictions in place. According to a NOTAM issued on May 20th, carriers were informed that the hub will remain shut until June 2nd.
“Aerodrome closed to commercial aviation traffic in compliance with Regione Sardegna decree 23 of 17th May 2020,” part of the NOTAM said, as reported by Aviation24.
“General aviation activity and commercial aviation activity on demand (aerotaxi) with aircraft having maximum cabin configuration equal or less than 19 seats are approved in compliance with Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation decree 207/2020 and Regione Sardegna decree 23 of 17th May 2020.”
With the A320 holding 180 seats, it is way over this 19-seat limit. Subsequently, the return flight between Olbia and Dusseldorf did not go ahead.
The global health crisis is continuing to evolve every single day, and governments keep updating their travel policies. This month, several European authorities have been sharing that they are relaxing restrictions. Ultimately, airlines may be struggling to keep up with the constant revisions.
Additionally, it is hard for passengers to confirm what the most up to date guideline is as countries are continually changing their measures. Therefore, airlines must consult with officials at the destinations that they are flying to before any flight takes off.
Simple Flying reached out to Eurowings to confirm what happened during the service to Olbia Airport. A spokesperson for the airline shared insight on what had occurred. Additionally, the carrier has apologised for the inconvenience.
“Against the background of the current corona crisis, the situation at numerous airports in Europe is very dynamic, which is manifested in the large amount of information provided on operating hours or airport closures that are often changed at short notice as well as daily changes in entry regulations in the various countries,” the spokesperson said.
“In the meantime we were able to retrace that this has been a misunderstanding in the consolidation of the relevant flight information. We would like to apologize to the passengers concerned for the inconvenience. The passengers were rebooked accordingly.”
What are your thoughts on this diverted Airbus A320 flight? Could there soon be more incidents like this within the industry? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.