Ground stop: easyJet has cancelled 32 flights, including the only departure from Gatwick to Catania
Ground stop: easyJet has cancelled 32 flights, including the only departure from Gatwick to Catania

Italy strike: How will it affect flights and train services?

Alitalia cancels more than 200 flights, including links with the UK; all your questions answered

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 24 October 2019 07:36

A national strike is planned for Italy on Friday 25 October 2019. Public servants and private sector employees are angry about low pay, pension provisions and poor working conditions.

The effect on travel will be highly significant. These are the key issues.

What is happening to flights to, from and within Italy?

Staff at the national airline, Alitalia, will walk out at midnight for the whole of 25 October. Pilots, cabin crew and ground staff are striking.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport also says that many individual airports will experience strikes.

In addition to these 24-hour walk-outs there will also be a four-hour stoppage by air-traffic control (ATC) workers between 1 and 5pm, local time – one of the busiest spells of the week in aviation. (Controllers in the southeast sector, Brindisi, may strike from 12 noon to 4pm instead.)

What is the effect?

Alitalia has already cancelled more than 200 flights – most of them domestic flights, but also a handful of links from London to Rome and Milan.

The Ops Group says of the ATC strikes: “When these four-hour strikes go ahead, overflights and incoming intercontinental flights (ie those from outside Europe) are normally not significantly affected, but there are often big delays for flights to/from Italian airports.”

Already, easyJet has cancelled 32 flights, affecting up to 5,000 passengers. A spokesperson for the airline said: “We have been advised of an Air Traffic Control and ground handling agents strike in Italian airports on Friday 25 October

“Affected customers have been notified by e-mail and SMS and will be able to change their flight free of charge or receive a refund. We advise customers to make any amendments to their booking on through the Manage Bookings tab.

“We recommend all customers flying to or from Italy on Friday 25 October allow extra time to get to the airport and check the status of their flight on and Flight Tracker for live updates.

“Although this is outside of our control we would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience and would like to assure them that we are doing all possible to minimise any disruption.”

Ryanair said: “We expect some level of disruption on the day including delays and the possibility of a small number of cancellations.

“All customers affected by a flight cancellation or delay will be notified by an email and SMS message, advising of their options of a free move or a refund.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by these ATC strikes. We will do everything we can to minimise disruption, which is sadly beyond our control.”

British Airways hasn't responded, but its website does not yet indicate any cancellations or delays.

Decisions on operations will be taken on Thursday afternoon, and if any disruption is expected you should be notified by email or SMS; ensure the airline knows your contact details.

What are my rights if my flight is cancelled or delayed?

Under European air passengers’ rights rules no compensation is payable if a strike by workers unconnected with the airline causes the problem. But after a delay of more than three hours there is a duty of care to provide meals, and if necessary accommodation, until the airline can get you to your destination.

If your flight is cancelled, then the airline must get you on the first available alternative departure, even if that is on a rival carrier.

If I reach Italy, what will be happening with terrestrial transport?

It could be that your problems are only just beginning. Workers on Trenitalia begin a 24-hour strike strike at 9pm on Thursday, which will cause problems for commuter and longer-distance services. Local transport, including buses, trams and the underground may be out of action in Catania, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome and Turin.

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Even if you rent a car, there could be problems on the autostrada due to a walk-out by toll collectors.

Can I cancel or postpone?

If you have booked a package holiday and your flight is cancelled, and there is not a reasonable alternative flight, you should be able to cancel or postpone your holiday.

Otherwise It may be that your airline will allow you to switch away to an alternative date. But there is no obligation for the airline to do so if your flight appears to be operating normally.

The usual cancellation conditions apply, which will mean you may lose some or all of your money.

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