Airlines Ax Rome Flights After Pope's Funeral Forces Airport Closure

LONDON (AP) -- British and Irish budget airlines on Thursday canceled scores of flights to Rome after Italian security officials shut one of the city's airports ahead of Pope John Paul II's funeral.

The Italian government closed Ciampino Airport from 0800 GMT Thursday to 2200 GMT on Friday as part of anti-terrorist measures. Ciampino, the closest major airport to central Rome, is used for civilian and military flights.

Dublin-based Ryanair canceled 90 flights linking Ciampino to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Stockholm and several other European cities on its Thursday and Friday schedules.

But Ryanair planned to operate all 90 flights from other Italian airports, chiefly Pescara 210 kilometers (130 miles) east of Rome. A handful instead were using Rome's biggest airport, Leonardo da Vinci Airport 25 kilometers (15 miles) outside the capital.

Ryanair spokeswoman Gillian Hynes said any passengers who didn't want to use the diverted services would have their money refunded in full, including taxes and fees. She said a private Italian bus company was providing extra services linking Pescara to Rome.

Rival budget operator easyJet said it was scrapping 16 flights between Ciampino and London, Geneva, and Dortmund in Germany, and several other British cities.

The airline announced extra flights to and from Bologna, which is a four-hour train journey north of Rome, and said passengers could request a refund.

British Airways, which uses Leonardo da Vinci Airport, said its flights were unaffected.

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