Passengers aboard Eurowings Flight EW9844 were taken on a trip to whence they came on May 23, following a mix-up regarding the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport’s withdrawal of a previous reopening decision.
According to aviation blog One Mile at a Time, the ministry ordered the reopening of the airport on May 17 as part of a new phase in the country’s fight to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. However, this decision was reversed some hours later by a regional ordinance.
A follow-up notice to airmen (NOTAM) was released to reiterate the airport’s closure:
“COVID-19. AERODROME CLOSED TO COMMERCIAL AVIATION TRAFFIC IN COMPLIANCE WITH REGIONE SARDEGNA DECREE 23 OF 17TH MAY 2020. RMK: GENERAL AVIATION ACTIVITY AND COMMERCIAL AVIATION ACTIVITY ON DEMAND (AEROTAXI) WITH AIRCRAFT HAVING MAXIMUM CABIN CONFIGURATION EQUAL OR LESS THAN 19 SEATS ARE APPROVED IN COMPLIANCE WITH MINISTRY OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORTATION DECREE 207/2020 AND REGIONE SARDEGNA DECREE 23 OF 17TH MAY 2020.”
A Eurowings spokesperson told AFP that the pilot of Flight EW9844 "was told by air traffic control on approach to the destination airport that landing was not possible.”
"We have figured out in the mean time that there was a misunderstanding when putting together the relevant information for the flight," they added.
FlightRadar24 detailed that the budget airline’s Airbus A320 remained at 1,720 meters above sea level and maintained an average speed of 430 kilometers per hour for around 40 minutes before heading back to Düsseldorf.
Though some larger airports in Rome and Italy have been reopened for flights, other runways in Italy remain closed to commercial traffic until at least June 3.