Italy extends route subsidies amid island furore

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The Italian civil aviation authority has stated subsidies on public service obligation (PSO) routes between Sicily and Lampedusa and Pantelleria until the end of the year following a public outcry over a potential end to air links to the islands.

The PSO, which had been due to expire at the end of September, will now operate until 31 December Italian regulator ENAC says.

The authority has sought to clarify the situation after Pantelleria mayor Gino Salvatore Gabriele alleged that Swiss regional Darwin Airlines could cease the only operation to Sicily when the PSO came to end and called for an urgent meeting with Italy's Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport over the matter.

Both routes are currently operated by Darwin Airlines which took over the services from Meridiana in October 2012.

At the end of December a new tender is expected to be issued for airlines wishing to operate the routes.