Alitalia, the national airline of Italy, has cancelled all of its flights out of Rome's Fiumicino airport tonight, after several of its passenger fleet were reported to be 'flying backwards'.
The airline confirmed that a number of flights have been cancelled, but denied it had run out of aviation fuel. Instead, it said, there had been an age-old Italian characteristic' fault - cowardice.
Italians have long been regarded as cowards, and their retreatory antics during World War II, and poor fighting performances against Greece and in North Africa, cemented the perception that Italians were poor fighters, and, indeed, 'yellow'.
To their credit, 1935 was a good year for the Italians, when they overcame the military might of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
The Alitalia aircraft at Rome seem to have somehow mimicked the behavioural traits of Italy's citizens, and have taken to 'taking flight the wrong way'. This may be due to a new engine that the fleet received during a recent refit.
Engineering company Benny Muzzolini developed and installed their new engine, which is a distant relative of the one fitted in a 1940s tank used in North Africa. This tank, the Poltrooni, could reverse at speeds of up to 200mph, even in the desert, and the Alitalia aircraft are now doing the same.
Alitalia officials said last night that the planes will be grounded until the fault can be corrected, or the War ends, whichever happens first.