Ahead of Italy’s biggest bank holiday, an ash cloud from the eruption causes flights to be cancelled, delayed and diverted.
Travel to and from Sicily was severely disrupted after the eruption of Mount Etna on Sunday night.
The majority of flights to and from Catania Airport have been cancelled, with the airport saying it will reopen at 8pm this evening.
Etna is Europe’s most active volcano and Italian authorities say it has entered a “pre-warning” phase, moving from warning level F0 to F1.
The chaos comes a day before Italy’s biggest national holiday. Ferragosto.
If you’re traveling to or from Catania, read on for advice from a Sicily-based journalist.
Catania Airport was closed after the eruption of Mount Etna
Airport officials say all flights in Catania have been suspended until 8pm today. Catania Sicily The second largest airport and operates domestic and international flights.
“Due to Etna’s volcanic activity and volcanic ash fall, flight operations have been suspended until 08:00 p.m.,” the airport said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
It advised passengers to check with their airlines for information about their flight.
The eruption has now subsided but much of Catania has ash in the streets. The mayor banned the use of motorcycles until Wednesday and banned drivers from driving more than 30 km/h.
Catania usually handles around 200 flights a day and had to close at 2.38am after a flight from Casablanca arrived. The airport is located about 50 km south of the volcano.
Catania Airport: where are the flights diverted to?
Departure and arrival boards at Catania Airport show that almost 95% of flights have been canceled today.
However, there are still a few flights arriving or being diverted to other airports in Sicily.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, and therefore airports abound.
Catania and Comiso airports are located on the east coast of the island. While Palermo Airport, which is the largest on the island, is located on the west coast. It’s a 4-5 hour drive from Catania to Palermo airport.
A few flights are also diverted to Trapani Airport, which is a 4-hour drive from Catania.
How to travel between the airports of Sicily
Mount Etna has been going through a particularly active period over the past four years. The explosions lead to the closure of Catania Airport once every few months.
The airport does not usually offer transportation assistance to passengers when it is forced to close.
Unfortunately, Sicily does not have a good public transport system. There are buses between Catania, Palermo and Trapani, but these buses mostly run from the city center rather than the airports.
The AST bus company operates intercity buses, the schedule of which is Available here.
There are car rental companies at all of Sicily’s airports.
What is the airline advice?
Ryanair It warned all passengers traveling to and from Catania on August 14 that they could face “potential delays, diversions or cancellations of flights”. The low-cost airline says affected passengers will be notified as soon as possible.
EasyJet is the main airline that flies from the UK to Catania. They have so far canceled flights to Catania from Bristol, Edinburgh and Gatwick. They are diverting some flights to Comiso Airport which is a 2 hour drive from Catania Airport.
Dozens of flights to Catania from other airlines across Europe have also been cancelled.
Where else are flights disrupted by the eruption?
Comiso Airport, about 150 km from Mount Etna, also affected by the eruption with flight delays earlier this morning. Air traffic to the island of Malta is also being rerouted to avoid the ash cloud from the eruption that spread across Sicily.
European air passenger rights mean that travelers whose flights have been severely delayed or canceled due to the eruption are entitled to meals and hotels as applicable.
Cancellations, delays, and disruptions can happen at short notice—especially if more blowouts happen.
Travel chaos in Sicily
Closing only days After the reopening of Catania after a great fire In one of its terminal buildings mid-July.
The fire has led to thousands of flights being canceled or diverted, with many tourists choosing to cancel their holidays altogether.
Airport authorities have been criticized for their slow and disorganized response, with hoteliers saying around 40,000 nights of accommodation were lost due to the travel disruption.
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