Ryanair could see itself banned from flying to Italy, according to the country’s air regulator (ENAC). The statement comes as Italy claims that Ryanair is flouting COVID-19 safety precautions. However, the carrier has categorically denied these claims and insists it is following all the protocols.
No social distancing
Ryanair does not offer any blocked seats onboard, which means flights can operate with no social distancing. Italy requires that flights not enforcing social distancing follow several safety measures. These measures include social distancing outside the aircraft, on buses, boarding, gates, etc. and strict mask compliance for both passengers and crew.
ENAC, in a statement, has said that Ryanair has repeatedly violated COVID-19 safety measures, but did not state which measures. According to Corriere della Sera, ENAC has said Ryanair flights are seeing crowding onboard, especially during boarding and disembarking, and the airline is not enforcing mask-wearing.
What does Ryanair risk?
If Ryanair does not quickly start enforcing the needed policies, Italy could take drastic steps to reduce risk. The airline could lose its derogation, which would mean Ryanair can only book flights to 50% capacity, an idea it has previously dismissed.
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However it violations continue to happen, ENAC has threatened to revoke Ryanair’s flight permission altogether, in what would be a dramatic escalation against Europe’s biggest airline. While it is unknown whether Italy will follow through on such a threat, the country is clear that all airlines have to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
Italy is a significant market for Ryanair, attracting thousands of travelers to dozens of destinations in the country. A ban or drop in capacity could hamper the recovery it has been seeing in the last few months.
Ryanair has denied all claims that it is flouting safety rules. The airline has reiterated its policy that all crew and passengers must wear face masks onboard for the entire flight, except while eating or drinking. Ryanair has also highlighted that it prevents crowding during boarding and disembarking by staggering passenger boarding.
Most European carriers have refrained from blocking middle seats, but that doesn’t seem to have affected passenger confidence. Ryanair now has 40% of its flights back in the air with a load factor of 72%, a commendable feat during this time. Ryanair plays a considerable role in driving Europe’s aviation recovery, even as fears of a second wave grow.
While Ryanair has denied ENAC claims, it could tighten up and enforce its safety policies in the coming weeks to prevent any escalation of the conflict.
What do you think of Ryanair’s safety policies? What has your experience been with Ryanair? Let us know in the comments!