The Italian civil aviation authority (Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile - ENAC) has confirmed it has now suspended Ernest Airlines' Operating Licence (OL) in accordance with earlier warnings.

"Therefore, from 0001L on Monday, January 13, 2020, the carrier will cease all operations. ENAC requests passengers in possession of tickets issued by Ernest dated January 13, 2020, onwards, not to go to the airport but to contact the airline directly for further information," it said.

ENAC said in late December that it would suspend Ernest's OL unless the airline addressed financial shortcomings by January 13. It underlined that as the issues were not related to flight safety, it decided to allow the airline to continue operations through the busy New Year and Orthodox Christmas (January 7) periods.

Ahead of its suspension of flights on Friday, January 10, Ernest Airlines resorted to ad-hoc wet-leases to run one-off services after having ended in-house fleet operations. Two of the carrier's A320-200s are currently stored at Lourdes/Tarbes, one at Amman Queen Alia, and the only A319-100 in Shannon.

The last flight under Ernest Airlines' code appears to have been EG202 from Tirana to Milan Bergamo operated by AlbaStar (AP, Palma de Mallorca) with a B737-800 on January 10, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

Shortly after Ernest Airlines' licence was suspended, low-cost carrier Wizz Air (W6, Budapest) stepped in with an announcement that it will launch new routes from Tirana to five Italian cities, namely:

  • Milan Bergamo (daily from March 29);
  • Pisa (3x weekly from March 31);
  • Bologna (4x weekly from May 1);
  • Verona (4x weekly from May 1);
  • Venice Treviso (3x weekly from August 1).

Services between Italy and Albania, in demand due to high labour migration from Albania to Italy, were Ernest Airlines' key market with over 58% of its total capacity deployed between these two countries, the ch-aviation capacities module shows. The remainder of the airline's capacity was deployed to Ukraine.

Wizz Air does not currently serve the Albania-Italy market, according to the ch-aviation schedules module, although it has a sizeable presence in both countries. Following Ernest Airlines' collapse, Wizz Air is the fourth-largest airline in Albania by capacity and the fifth-largest in Italy.