A Eurowings flight from Dusseldorf to Sardinia, carrying just two passengers, was forced to return home mid-air because its destination airport was closed due to a coronavirus lockdown.
Eurowings Flight 9844 made it all the way to Sardinian airspace on 23 May before it was told by air traffic control that the airport was shut to commercial traffic, CNN reported.
The mistake was made because Sardinia’s Olbia Airport was ordered to reopen on 17 May, but then the local government immediately overruled the decision.
The flight then made the two-hour return trip to Germany, and the airline rebooked the two passengers onto other flights.
Both Italy and Germany have started lifting their strict coronavirus lockdowns. Currently, Olbia is to remain closed to commercial flights until 2 June at the earliest.
A Eurowings spokesperson told CNN in a statement that “the situation at numerous airports in Europe is very dynamic” due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The large amount of information provided on operating hours or airport closures are often changed at short notice,” the spokesperson said, adding that there are “daily changes in entry regulations in the various countries.”
Air travel has fallen dramatically during the pandemic, and airlines are now scrambling to implement new policies to stop viral transmissions and to make the crew and passengers feel safe.
Many tourist-reliant regions are now starting to reopen as more countries lift their lockdown measures.