Air Malta has temporarily stopped its daily flights to Milan Linate Airport amidst concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has strongly impacted the North of Italy.
Milan is located in Lombardy, one of 15 Italian provinces which were recently placed under quarantine until 3rd April. Citizens from those regions now require special permission to travel.
Although Linate Airport itself didn’t impose specific travel restrictions, Italy’s national airline Alitalia announced that it will only use the Milan airport to serve domestic routes while the quarantine measures are in place. Meanwhile, it will suspend all operations at the Milan Malpensa airport.
“Air Malta has today suspended its daily flight to Milan until further notice due to the current situation in Northern Italy amid the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, following the lockdown decree issued by the Italian Government,” Air Malta said in a statement.
“Whilst calling for calm, the Airline stated that the US’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation do not suggest restricting flights to and from Milan in their recommendations. However, on consultation with the Prime Minister, the responsible Minister and Government agencies, the management of Air Malta has resolved to take this decisive action as a measure of reassurance.”
“The safety of our passengers, crew and staff, and the concerns raised by the people of Malta is our first priority.”
It said all passengers affected by the cancellation of flights will be notified, that it is constantly monitoring the evolving situation and that it will announce any changes as they arise.
When announcing the first case of the coronavirus in Malta yesterday, Health Minister Chris Fearne said health experts had advised the government against stopping flights from countries or regions at high risk of the virus, a request that the Malta Medical Association had made. However, MaltaToday then reported that Fearne has actually been internally lobbying in favour of halting flights to Northern Italy but that this idea was shot down by Prime Minister Robert Abela.
In a speech today, Abela urged Malta not to panic over the coronavirus, stating that the island’s healthcare system has been well-prepared for a potential outbreak for a long time.