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EasyJet has cancelled around 200 flights amid strike disruption
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A plane flies over the Colosseum in Rome
Hundreds of flights to Italy are set to be cancelled ahead of the weekend, as Italian air traffic control strikes cause disruption for multiple airlines.
The strike is taking place on Friday, 21 October, with air traffic controllers well as ground handling staff walking out for 24 hours over pay and working conditions.
Multiple unions covering the transport sector voted for the strikes, with some of Italy’s public transport on the ground also affected.
Some local newspapers dubbed the date “black Friday” due to the mass travel disruption, with Il Giorno predicting that over 250,000 Italian passengers would have their journeys disrupted.
Airlines affected include easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling, ITA Airways and British Airways. Journeys to all of Italy’s main destination airports, including Rome, Naples, Turin and Milan, are affected.
Ryanair confirmed that it had cancelled 600 flights ahead of the strikes, issuing a statement apologising to the hundreds of thousands of travellers affected. EasyJet said it had cancelled 200 flights to and from various Italian airports.
The country’s national carrier ITA Airways released a statement on Tuesday saying it had cancelled hundreds of international and domestic flights on Friday, adding that most of the journeys affected are from Rome and Milan.
A full list of ITA’s advance cancellations can be found here. The airline said that customers will be offered free alternative flights on the following days, or a refund.
This morning, dozens of British Airways and easyJet flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled, according to data from aviation analytics company Cirium.
One ITA departure from London City was also axed, along with two BA departures from LCY to Florence and Milan.
Italy’s National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) said that a number of flights would be guaranteed to operate between 7-10am and 6-9pm, with the middle part of the day more heavily afflicted by cancellations.
Airlines are advising Italy-bound passengers to allow extra time for their journey and to check their flight status in advance.
An easyJet spokesperson told The Independent:“Due to national strike action in Italy including air traffic services and ground handling staff, all airline’s flights to and from Italian airports could experience some disruption. As a result, easyJet has cancelled a number of flights between the UK and Italy in advance.
“We are contacting customers whose flights are cancelled via SMS and email and providing options to transfer to an alternative flight for free or receive a refund and advise customers travelling on Friday 21 October to check the status of their flights on our Flight Tracker.
“While this is outside of our control, we would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience they may experience as a result of the strike action.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair apologised to its 110,000 affected passengers in a statement on Wednesday. It read: “Due to a 24 hour flight controller strike starting at 00.00 on Friday (21 October), we were unfortunately forced to cancel over 600 flights to / from Italy.
“All 110,000 affected Ryanair passengers have been notified of their options. Ryanair sincerely apologizes to all passengers whose travel plans have been unfairly impacted by this strike by the Italian Flight Controllers.”
Ryanair’s operations director, Neal McMahon, said: “It is inexplicable that a small number of striking Italian ATC staff will once again cause chaos for thousands of Italian citizens/visitors travelling to/from Italy today (Thurs, 20 Oct) and tomorrow (Fri, 21 Oct).
“It is time that the EU step in and protect European passengers from repeatedly being held to ransom by ATC strikes.”
ITA Airways said it had cancelled 190 flights, including national and international ones, on the entire network for the whole day.
ITA told The Independent that it “has activated an extraordinary plan to limit the inconvenience for passengers, who were also informed on the website 5 days in advance.
“The plan rebooked as many travellers as possible involved in the cancellations on the first available flights, while 20 per cent will still be able to fly today”.
The Independent has contacted British Airways and Vueling for further information on the cancellations.
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