Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines has announced today that it has temporarily canceled all flights to Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement released by the Turkish national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines said that the flight ban would take immediate effect.
The move follows a directive from the Atlanta-based United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy.
Italy leads coronavirus cases in Europe
After Wuhan in China, where the coronavirus is thought to have started, and Daegu in South Korea, Italy has become the worst-hit country in Europe. At the time of writing, the Italian authorities have announced that the number of known infected people is at 1,128 with 29 deaths linked to the flu-like infection. A day earlier the figure of infected people stood at 888 with 21 deaths, a clear sign that the outbreak has not been contained. In an effort to combat the spread of the disease, entire towns and villages in the country’s economic heartland have been quarantined.
Initially, the outbreak was thought to be in the Lombardy and Veneto regions in the north, but cases are now starting to show up in other parts of the country. A woman from the town of Fiumicino where Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO) is located, tested positive for the coronavirus along with her husband and one of her two children.
British Airways and easyJet cancel flights to Italy
Prior to Turkish Airlines’ complete flight ban to all Italian destinations, British Airways and low-cost carrier easyJet announced that they would stop flying to certain cities due to the coronavirus. The decision made by the two United Kingdom airlines was done primarily for economic reasons rather than health and safety precautions. The reason was that the airlines noticed a steep decline in passengers wanting to travel to Italy.
In a statement about the canceled flights to northern Italy reported by The Local, the Luton-based carrier said:
“We have seen a significant softening of demand and load factors into and out of our northern Italian bases,” easyJet said. “Further we are also seeing some slower demand across our other European markets. As a result, we will be making decisions to cancel some flights, particularly those into and out of Italy, while continuing to monitor the situation and adapting our flying program to support demand.”
Turkish Airlines has disinfected 250 planes
As one of the larger airlines in the world flying to more destinations than most, Turkish Airlines is at the forefront of the coronavirus outbreak. The airline had already canceled all flights to China and Iran, two of the places most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. In a further move to ensure that the airlines’ aircraft are germ-free, Turkish Airlines has had 250 aircraft disinfected. In a statement regarding the suspension of flights to Italy, Turkish Airlines said:
“Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Italy, our flights to/from this country are canceled starting from 1 March. As the airline that always puts the travel security at the forefront, Turkish Airlines will continue to monitor the latest developments on the situation with the national and international health authorities and take appropriate precautions.”
The coronavirus is having a huge impact on airlines as people around the world opt to cancel their travel plans and stay home for fear of catching the disease.
If you are one of those people that has decided to put off flying please tell us your reasons in the comments section.