German plane forced to turn around after flying to closed Italy airport

GERMAN airline Eurowings resumed its Düsseldorf to Sardinia services on Saturday but was forced to turn back before its final destination as the island’s Olbia Airport is still closed.

Eurowings flight EW9844 was due to arrive at Sardinia’s Olbia Airport on the morning of May 23 but, on entering Sardinian airspace, air traffic controllers notified the pilots that the airport was shut to commercial traffic.

The Eurowings flight then waited in a 40-minute holding pattern while the pilot requested special permission to land, but was denied. A diversion to Cagliari, around 120 miles away, was suggested, Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reports, but the flight crew opted to return to Düsseldorf instead.

The Airbus A320’s scenic round trip took a total of four hours and 10 minutes.

Talking to CNN Travel, a Eurowings spokesperson tried to explain the error. “Against the background of the corona crisis, the situation at numerous airports in Europe is very dynamic,” the spokesperson said.

“The large amount of information provided on operating hours or airport closures are often changed at short notice,” the spokesperson continued, and there are “daily changes in entry regulations in the various countries.”

CNN reports that the two passengers that were on board the flight have been able to rebook.

Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is closed to commercial traffic until June 2, although private jets with a maximum of 19 seats are currently permitted to land.

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Rebecca Ann Hughes

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