Row over ID laws
From January 23, budget airline Ryanair is to suspend domestic flights to and from airports within Italy, after laws on ID are relaxed.
In November, Italian civil aviation authority ENAC introduced national legislation allowing passengers to travel domestically with forms of identification other than passports, such as Italian AT/BT cards, employment IDs and Italian fishing or hunting licences.
This decision goes against Ryanair's travel documentation policy that states: "Passengers should carry a valid passport (and visa if applicable) or government issued national identification card on all journeys. Ryanair does NOT accept driver licence, residence cards, family books, seaman books, ministerial ID's, military ID cards, Italian AT/BT cards etc."
Given that the ENAC's new law will mean that Ryanair's handling staff, who are responsible for checking ID at the gate, may be imprisoned if they refuse travel to passengers flying with these other forms of ID, the airline has decided to temporarily suspend flights between its ten Italian airports.
These are: Alghero, Bari, Bologna, Brindisi, Cagliari in Sardinia, Milan (Bergamo), Pescara, Pisa, Rome (Ciampino), and Trapani in Sicily.
Ryanair states that the reason it has a strict travel ID policy in place is that it requires all passengers to check-in online, "so it is imperative for the safety and security of all Ryanair flights that all Ryanair passengers agree at the time of booking that they will produce either a passport or an EU/EEA national ID card at the boarding gate prior to the boarding of their flight".
Ryanair adds that its Italian domestic flights will only be restored if it "can be certain that the safety and security of its operations will not be undermined by ENAC's unlawful interference".
In a statement, Ryanair's ceo Michael O'Leary said: "We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this measure will cause to our Italian domestic passengers. However, it is entirely wrong of ENAC to introduce lower safety/security measures on Italian domestic flights than the safety and security measures which already operate successfully on all Ryanair's intra-EU flights and Ryanair's domestic flights in every other EU country.
"Since these ID requirements are agreed by all passengers, there is no justification for ENAC to interfere in Ryanair's security process. Ryanair's passport/ID card policy has been approved by every other EU country, including ENAC itself some four years ago.
"ENAC's unlawful insistence that Ryanair should accept other (less secure) forms of ID on Italian domestic flights, which our crews and our handling agents may be unfamiliar with, reduces safety and security in a manner which is unacceptable to Ryanair, our crews and passengers.
"Ryanair regrets this latest attempt by ENAC to unlawfully interfere in the manner in which Ryanair operates its flights, or to alter agreements which are freely entered into between passengers and Ryanair at the time of booking.
"We will be appealing this ENAC Ordinanza in the Consiglio di Stato and remain hopeful that the Consiglio di Stato will dismiss this unlawful attempt by ENAC to interfere in Ryanair's operations and to reduce the level of safety and security enjoyed by all Ryanair passengers and flights across Italy."