More than 800 flights across several airlines have been canceled due to the strike.
Friday, October 21st will see air traffic controllers across Italy on a 24-hour strike from 00:01 to 23:59. The nationwide strike will also see several airline employees and airport ground staff chipping in. Even though the Italian Civil Aviation Authority has secured two slots for a guaranteed number of flights, numerous airlines are still forced to trim their schedules severely.
The post-pandemic era for the global aviation industry has been anything but turbulent-free, as it faces staffing shortages and various degrees of operational disruptions. Workers within the industry also face prolonged, more stressful hours under poorer conditions. When these conditions are paired with wage cuts, it becomes the perfect storm for unions to call to action for strikes.
And unfortunately for Italy, the country has faced the same storm a couple of times already this year, but it looks like the threat remains looming. The industrial walkout on Friday comes as multiple unions across the country have had enough after negotiation talks with the Italian Civil Aviation Authority over salary and contract disputes continue to reach unamicable ends.
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Strikes do, however, open the doors for massive disruptions as airlines and airports scramble to maintain proper operations with limited resources. In the case of Friday's air traffic control strike, the two secured slots are from 05:00 UTC to 08:00 UTC and from 16:00 UTC to 19:00 UTC, and the Italian Civil Aviation Authority suggests that overflights should not be affected. Regardless, it has been estimated over 250,000 passengers will be affected.
Italian flag carrier ITA Airways has already canceled more than 200 domestic and international flights, most of which are to and from Milan and Rome. The flag carrier said in a statement:
"Following the national strike of the air traffic controllers and the air transport sector on Friday, the Company was forced to cancel some domestic flights. ITA Airways has activated an extraordinary plan to limit the inconvenience of passengers, rebooking the largest possible number of travelers involved in cancellations on the first available flights: 20% will be able to fly on the same day of October 21st."
Since the circumstance of these flight cancelations and potential delays are external, ITA Airways is not required to offer compensation. However, the airline is allowing affected passengers to rebook without penalties or request a refund before October 28th. Several other airlines are following suit, such as Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, which has canceled more than 600 flights to and from Italy.
Fellow low-cost carrier easyJet has also been canceling hundreds of flights and contacting affected passengers via email and SMS about their flight cancelations or possible delays. The low-cost carrier said in a statement:
"Like most airlines operating to and from Italy, we may see some disruptions to our flying program on October 21st. We advise customers traveling to, from, or within Italy on this date to allow additional time to travel to and from the airport and check their flight status."
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Italy's air traffic control strike would be the latest industrial walkout to hit the European aviation industry this year, following a similar 24-hour walkout by French air traffic controllers last month. Several airlines, such as Air France, easyJet, and Ryanair, were similarly forced to trim their schedules. Though the strike's outcome was relatively stable as more flights were operating in and out of France than initially expected, the same result might not happen for Italy on Friday.
While it is undeniable that workers within the industry have been dealt with unfair conditions and do wish for airlines and airports to pay, ultimately, the heaviest price is still paid by the many affected passengers. Several affected passengers have booked their flights several months, some even a year in advance, and were looking to their long-awaited holidays. Unfortunately, these passengers are now left feeling devasted and unsure when their anticipated holiday will finally occur.
What are your opinions on the strikes that have been happening this year? Have you had your flight affected by one? Let us know in the comments below.
Journalist – Charlotte is currently pursuing a full-time undergraduate degree majoring in Aviation Business Administration and minoring in Air Traffic Management. Charlotte previously wrote for AirlineGeeks. Based in Singapore.

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