Airline resumes flights to Italy (but turns around when airport’s shut)

(CNN) — We’re all pretty excited about being able to travel again — but German airline Eurowings might be more eager than most.

The low-cost carrier resumed services from Düsseldorf to Sardinia, Italy, on Saturday — but was forced to turn around at its destination because Olbia Airport is still closed.

Flight EW9844 set off on the 730-mile (1,170km) flight to Sardinia’s Olbia Airport on the morning of May 23, but was in Sardinian airspace before being informed by air traffic control that it wasn’t open to commercial traffic.

The Airbus A320 hung around in a holding pattern hoping for permission to land, but no dice.

A diversion was proposed to Cagliari, some 120 miles away, reports Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, but the flight crew opted to cut its losses and head back to Düsseldorf.

This little sightseeing tour of western Europe, for the benefit of the A320’s load of two Sardinian passengers, took a total of four hours and ten minutes.

So how did this misunderstanding happen? A Eurowings spokesperson told CNN Travel that “Against the background of the corona crisis, the situation at numerous airports in Europe is very dynamic.

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

The confusion appears to center on Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation reopening the airport on Sunday, May 17, but that decision was overruled the same day at a regional level, reports the One Mile at a Time aviation blog.

Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is currently closed until at least June 2.

Eurowings’ spokesperson lays the blame on “a misunderstanding in the consolidation of the relevant flight information.”

The passengers — both of them — were rebooked and, it’s safe to say, were at least able to social distance appropriately on their A320 jaunt last Saturday morning.

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