Hundreds of flights to Italy are due to be canceled ahead of the weekend as Italian air traffic control strikes cause disruption at several airlines.
The strike will take place on Friday October 21, with air traffic controllers and ground handlers stepping out for 24 hours over pay and working conditions.
Several unions covering the transport sector voted in favor of the strikes, with some of Italy’s public transport also affected.
Some local newspapers dubbed the date “Black Friday” due to the mass travel disruption. The Giorno He predicted the journey of over 250,000 Italian passengers would be disrupted.
Which airlines and airports are affected?
Airlines affected include easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling, ITA Airways and British Airways. Flights to all major destinations in Italy, including Rome, Naples, Turin and Milan, are affected.
Ryanair confirmed it had canceled 600 flights before the strikes and issued a statement apologizing to the hundreds of thousands of travelers affected.
The country’s national airline, ITA Airways, released a statement on Tuesday saying it canceled hundreds of international and domestic flights on Friday, adding that most of the affected trips are from Rome and Milan.
A full list of ITA pre-cancellations can be found here. The airline said customers will be offered free alternative flights or a refund on the following days.
Dozens of British Airways and easyJet flights have been canceled from London Heathrow and Gatwick this morning, according to data from aeronautics analysis firm Cirium.
An ITA departure from London City was also cancelled, along with two BA departures from LCY to Florence and Milan.
Italy’s National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) said a number of flights were guaranteed to operate between 7am and 10am and 6pm to 9pm, with the middle part of the day being more affected by cancellations.
What did airlines say?
Airlines advise passengers traveling to Italy to allow more time for their trip and to check their flight status in advance.
“We were informed on Friday 21 October of the nationwide strike action in Italy which will impact air traffic control and ground handling services,” easyJet said in a statement.
“Like most airlines operating to and from Italy, there may be disruptions to our flight program on this date.
“We advise customers traveling to, from or within Italy on Friday 21 October to allow additional time for travel to and from the airport and to check the status of their flights on our flight tracker.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair apologized to its 110,000 affected passengers in a statement on Wednesday. It read: “Due to a 24-hour strike by air traffic controllers, which began at 00.00 on Friday (21 October), we have unfortunately been forced to cancel over 600 flights to/from Italy.
“All 110,000 affected Ryanair passengers have been informed of their options. Ryanair sincerely apologizes to all passengers whose travel plans have been unjustly impacted by this strike by Italian air traffic controllers.”
The Independent has contacted British Airways, ITA and easyJet for more information on the cancellations.