We would like to ensure that you are still receiving content that you find useful – please confirm that you would like to continue to receive ILO newsletters.
22 April 2020
Over the past month, the government has implemented broad measures to:
This article provides an overview of the measures which directly involve the aviation sector. As airlines have had to significantly reduce flights and many airports have been temporarily closed, the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant adverse effects for stakeholders at all levels.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport has guaranteed only essential air transport services throughout Italy (eg, mail and cargo services). Accordingly, most Italian airports have been closed until 3 May 2020. Airports which can uniformly serve users due to their geographical location and infrastructure capacity (eg, Ancona, Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Genova, Milan Malpensa, Naples, Palermo, Rome Fiumicino, Turin and Venice Marco Polo) remain open, as does Rome Ciampino for state flights and emergency services. Otherwise, general aviation and private operations at different airports will be authorised only for proven work requirements, emergency situations or health reasons.
In addition, any passengers on inbound flights which depart from another country must undergo a temperature check before embarkation (which is denied in case of a high temperature). After landing, they must make a self-declaration setting out their reason for travel and their place of residence in Italy. Subsequently, passengers must stay in quarantine at their place of residence for 14 days, during which time the public health authorities will carry out regular surveillance inspections.
The government has implemented a package of urgent measures to financially support the national economy. This is on the basis that the COVID-19 outbreak constitutes a natural and exceptional occurrence under Article 107(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which means that public aid to prevent (or at least limit) relevant damages is considered compatible with the internal market. In particular, Italian-licensed air carriers operating to fulfil public service obligations will receive compensation for damages suffered as a direct consequence of the emergency in order to ensure the continuation of scheduled services to or from airports serving a peripheral or less developed regions (Article 16 of EU Regulation 1008/2008).
A further measure has been taken with regard to major national airline Alitalia, which is currently undergoing a restructuring procedure (extraordinary administration). A new company owned entirely by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (or another state-owned vehicle) will be established to act as the transferee of Alitalia's air transport business when its commissioner finalises the sale to an interested party. The new company will receive up to €500 million in 2020 to fulfil the airline's financial commitments during the International Air Transport Association's summer season and until the sale process is completed.
Reference must be made to the European Commission's interpretative guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing COVID-19 situation, particularly with regard to flight cancellations. The Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) follows the EU Commission's guidelines in their entirety.
Compensation is not available for flights which are cancelled more than 14 days in advance or where the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken (Article 5 of the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation (261/2004)). In this respect, the EU Commission believes that where public authorities take measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, such measures are by their nature unrelated to air carriers' normal course of activity and are thus outside their control. Therefore, extraordinary circumstances will apply if public authorities prohibit certain flights or ban the movement of people in a manner that practically excludes the operation of a flight. Depending on the circumstances, this may also be the case for flights in the opposite direction to those directly concerned by the ban on the movement of people.
Further, a cancellation will be considered to have been caused by extraordinary circumstances where airlines cancel flights and prove that this decision was justified on the grounds of protecting the health of crew members.
In response to the pandemic, ENAC has issued special authorisations allowing the police to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (ie, drones) to monitor the movement of individuals in Italy to ensure compliance with the general lockdown restrictions, which can be waived only in case of essential needs (eg, purchasing food or medicine or meeting unavoidable work requirements). Pursuant to Article 744 of the Navigation Code, drones operated by public bodies are not considered 'state aircraft' and are therefore subject to the ordinary certification, registration and flight permit rules. For such reason, during this health emergency, ENAC has simplified the regulatory procedures for drones with a maximum take-off weight of up to 25kg so that the police can act in a timely manner and with less operational restrictions.
Further, in the event of a drone shortage, ENAC has authorised the police to use vehicles and pilots belonging to private drone operators, on the basis of appropriate contractual arrangements between the parties and subject to those operators having already been certified by ENAC for the intended flight activities.
For further information on this topic please contact Laura Pierallini at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713) or email (email@example.com). The Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati website can be accessed at www.studiopierallini.it.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
ILO is a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. In-house corporate counsel and other users of legal services, as well as law firm partners, qualify for a free subscription.