Sicily travel chaos as Catania airport fire leaves UK holidaymakers unable to fly

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Holidaymakers are facing major disruption after a blaze at Sicily’s main airport

Catania - Italy’s fifth largest airport - was closed on 16 July after a fire broke out in its Terminal A building.

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The blaze, the cause of which is still being investigated, was quickly extinguished but it caused significant damage forcing urgent repair work to be carried out, with flights cancelled as a result.

Holidaymakers are facing major disruption after a blaze at Sicily’s main airport (Photo: Adobe)Holidaymakers are facing major disruption after a blaze at Sicily’s main airport (Photo: Adobe)
Holidaymakers are facing major disruption after a blaze at Sicily’s main airport (Photo: Adobe) | Nina L/ - stock.

The fire prompted the UK Foreign Office to issue an alert for holidaymakers travelling to Italy, with passengers advised to contact their travel operator regarding flight details. It said: “Due to a fire in the airport terminal, Catania airport is operating a limited number of flights. You should contact your travel operator for details of cancelled or diverted flights.”

Operations resumed at the airport days later, but only for domestic flights within the European Union’s Schengen Area. As such, flights regarded as domestic - with no passport control or customs post required - are able to go ahead, while flights from the UK to Catania remain grounded.

As confirmed in a Notice to Airmen, no non-Schengen flights will land at or depart from Catania airport until 26 July. Arriving and departing passengers from countries that are outside of the EU’s Schengen Area, which includes the UK, are required to go through passport control to have documents stamped.

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The regional government has said the situation at the airport is gradually improving and it expects the airport to return to full capacity by early August.

Sicilian governor Renato Schifan indicated on Tuesday (25 July) that the return to full normality should take place around 4 or 5 August, at which point UK flights should resume.

Speaking at an operational meeting at Fontanarossa Airport, Mr Schifani said: “From tomorrow (26 July) the operation of Catania airport will go from eight to ten flights per hour, five departures and five arrivals, while from Tuesday 1 August, when the 500 square metre tensile structure set up by the air force will come into operation, it will be possible to reach up to 14.

“The return to full normality will take place a few days later, as soon as the reclamation and restoration operations of terminal A are completed.”

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Jet2 has withdrawn and cancelled all flights to Catania until Thursday 3 August. The airline has said it plans to restart its flying programme to and from Catania on Friday 4 August, and will update customers if there are any further changes.

Return flights that were due to leave Catania for the UK up to 25 July will now operate from Trapani Airport instead. Affected passengers should have been contacted via SMS or email.

The airline said: “We apologise for this change that is unfortunately beyond our control and we thank you for your patience and understanding at this time.”

EasyJet has said it is currently operating a significantly reduced schedule and is hoping to operate as many flights as possible by re-routing to nearby airports in Sicily. Ryanair has also moved its Catania services to other Sicilian airports, while British Airways and Wizz Air are cancelling flights from the UK.

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