British Airways Bungles Response to Italian Coronavirus Lockdown

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The consequences of the coronavirus outbreak continue to become more serious for both the travel industry and travellers. Italy has now extended quarantine measures across the whole country and the response from airlines – particularly British Airways – has been unfortunately chaotic.

This morning, British Airways announced that all its flights to/from Italy had been cancelled through to (at least) 4th April. Passengers due to fly back to the UK received messages informing them that their flight had been cancelled.  The problem of course is that this has effectively stranded some passengers in Italy!

Given that BA was still happy fly people to northern Italy (which was already locked down) as recently as yesterday, it’s difficult to conclude anything other than that this is a complete mess. At the time of writing, the official word from BA about flights to/from Italy has been updated from all flights cancelled to “some flights are affected”, so perhaps some final ‘rescue’ flights are now being organised? Let’s hope so.

Ryanair has adopted a much more sensible policy, cancelling all international flights to and from Italy, but from Saturday rather than immediately. Passengers who need to return home can therefore switch to one of the flights operating up to the end of the day on Friday.

Bottom line

Airlines have a huge amount of issues to deal with at the moment, with Government travel advice changing rapidly, passengers cancelling en masse, and share prices tumbling. But, stranding passengers without warning (unless instructed to do so by the Government) is unacceptable regardless of what else is going on.


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