Rome - Ridiculous delays of over 30 hours; travellers stranded at the airport without explanation; last-minute cancellations. It was a difficult start to the summer for those who chose to travel by plane.
Causing inconveniences for hundreds of passengers, these delays and service disruptions at Italian airports has prompted the Civil Aviation Authority [ENAC] to take action, opening an investigation into four carriers, Blue Panorama, Ryanair, Volotea and Vueling.
The ENAC assessment is aimed at verifying the programmes of the companies involved in relation to the available fleet and crews: the objective is to evaluate the possible need for a downsizing of operations or a limitation of services. To carry out these investigations, the ENAC has also involved foreign civil aviation authorities, in particular the Spanish civil aviation authority, for the carriers Volotea and Vueling, and the Irish civil aviation authority, for the checks on Ryanair.ENAC has not made known what the specific events were, but some made news stories. Volotea was the protagonist of a 31-hour mega-long delay on a flight between Orio al Serio and Lampedusa due to a breakdown in early July, and another 14-hour delay on the same route a few weeks later. Blue Panorama wound up in ENAC’s sights a few days ago because of delays to a Bologna-Rome flight, which because of a malfunction of the Athens airport landing authorisation system, was diverted to the Greek airport; the next day a Pantelleria-Rome flight departed 25 hours late.
Vueling was targeted with protests because of the cancellation of a Palermo-Rome flight in late June. Finally, ENAC is currently investigating the cancellation of Rynair’s guarantee during the strike on 25 July. Consumers’ associations together with CODACONS are applauding ENAC’s decision to respond to their complaints. However, the Consumers’ Union warns that if airlines were to plan an unrealistic number of flights, ENAC would have to protect passengers who have already booked their tickets, and if anything, prevent new and additional bookings.
Blue Panorama, for its part, is defending itself: we are an injured party and the investigation will reveal “a significant impact generated by congestion at Greek airports that issue daily restrictions on departing flights.”