ENAC, the national civil aviation authority of Italy, has written to Ryanair to say that it “systematically does not comply with the provisions envisaged in Italy to limit the risk from coronavirus on board aircraft”.
The letter says social distancing and rules on face coverings are not observed, and that unless the airline improves it will impose a rule prohibiting Ryanair from filling more than half its seats.
In the event of “further non-compliance with the obligations,” ENAC warns that Ryanair could be grounded in Italy, and be compelled to re-book passengers on alternative airlines.
Europe’s biggest budget airline has rejected the criticism, saying: “Ryanair complies fully with the measures set out by the Italian government and our customers can rest assured that we are doing everything to reduce interaction on both our aircraft and at airports to protect the health of our passengers.
“All passengers are encouraged to check-in online, and the boarding process is now contactless to avoid unnecessary contact at airports.
“Ryanair has also implemented specific boarding procedures to avoid unnecessary gathering of passengers both at boarding gates and onboard the aircraft. Ryanair strictly limits carry-on baggage to further reduce passengers congregating while putting bags in overhead lockers.
“All Ryanair passengers and crew must wear face masks at all times throughout the flight.”
In terms of the number of passengers flown without a single death in an accident, Ryanair is the safest airline in the world.
The airline has announced its intention to fly “more than 60 per cent” of its originally planned schedule during August.
In July, Ryanair operated 40 per cent of the original timetable.
Eddie Wilson, chief executive of the main division, Ryanair DAC, said: “We were pleased to see our people and customers adopt to our healthy flying measures, and encourage all those travelling with us in August to continue to do so.
“We’re also proud to play our part in helping Europe’s tourism industry take off again.”