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TRAVEL: Airlines cancel flights between the UK and Italy amid ‘ongoing uncertainty’

As Italy opens up to tourism and eases coronavirus restrictions, many readers of The Local have got in touch to report last-minute flight cancellations. Here's what we know so far about the changing travel situation and how you can plan around it.

With news that more of Italy is easing its lockdown measures earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening, travel to Italy is looking an increasingly hopeful prospect this summer.

And Italy has so far not been among the EU countries placing further restrictions on arrivals from the UK amid concern about the spread of the Delta variant.

TRAVEL: Italy will bring back quarantine rule for UK arrivals ‘if necessary’, says PM

Now that weddings are back on the agenda from Tuesday, the country seems primed to welcome people from outside Italy and to allow families to reunite once again.

But, just as things were looking up, many readers of The Local have reached out in the past week to share their frustration at having their flights between Italy and the UK suddenly cancelled.

Several airlines appear to be cancelling flights at the last minute and putting a question mark on plans already postponed many times.

After various cancellations across Italy’s airports, others are also looking at different flight routes in order to still make their plans happen.

The Local understands that Ryanair, Easyjet and British Airways are cancelling flights on multiple UK-Italy routes often with just a couple of weeks’ notice.

Corinne McAlary tweeted that her parents have booked five times with three different airlines due to continuing cancellations.

Readers have also written to us on Facebook, urging others to keep an eye on their flights as a result of frequent changes.

I have been affected by the flight cancellations myself.

Just as I was beginning to believe my wedding plans could finally go ahead this summer, my family informed me that they too have had their flights cancelled with just over two weeks’ notice.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re exhausted’: What it’s like planning a wedding in Italy during the pandemic

They received an email on Tuesday from Ryanair, which stated, “We regret to advise you that due to ongoing changes to travel restrictions, at very short notice, we have no alternative and are forced to cancel your flight(s).”

Looking on Ryanair’s website, there are low-cost flight promotions advertised on the homepage.

However, when you go to book, many routes are cancelled for the first two weeks of July.

READ ALSO: What you need to know if you’re travelling to Italy in summer 2021

If you’ve already booked your flight and now have lost it, compensation offered is either “a full reimbursement of the cost of your ticket, or the option of re-routing,” the email stated.

Budget carrier EasyJet has also cancelled flights on various routes in late June and July, several readers told us.

Richard in the UK told us he’d been planning to visit friends in Puglia in July but was “surprised and disappointed” to find his flight to Bari had been cancelled.

EasyJet did not state a reason for the cancellations, only telling passengers that the airline “would like to apologise for any inconvenience this will cause.”  It offered reimbursement or rebooking options.

As many travel hotspots remain on the UK’s amber list, travel provider TUI announced last week that they were cancelling dozens of holiday routes from the UK until mid-July too, “due to ongoing uncertainty around travel”.

Italy is included on TUI’s list of suspended countries until 4th July.

How can you work around the flight cancellations?

Flying between the UK and Italy is far from easy right now, but not impossible. As long as you’re willing to travel potentially further afield to other airports or perhaps change the duration of your stay in Italy.

My family originally planned to fly from Manchester to Bologna with Ryanair, but after the cancellation notice it looked like London Stansted could be a workable UK airport to fly from.

Alternatively, to save a long trip north on returning to the UK, Bologna is still flying to Milan (Bergamo) in early July.

Whichever option you take, you might have to add on extra hours in car travel.

Other regional airports close to Bologna, such as Venice, have also grounded flights from Manchester for the first two weeks of July.

READ ALSO: What Covid-19 tests do I need for travel between Italy and the UK?

However, London Stansted again is operating on Venice routes.

Another option is Luton and Milan Malpensa, as suggested by Bruno Vedrickas. On checking EasyJet’s timetable, there are in fact flights currently running this route in early July on a reduced timetable, which then ramps up from mid-July.

The Manchester options with EasyJet aren’t plentiful for early July, with no flights running to Venice or Pisa.

Flying from London is looking like the safer bet with flights to Milan, but there are no flights to other airports around Italy for this time period, including, Bari, Naples, Rome and Pisa.

There’s one flight a week to Sardinia from London with EasyJet.

How about British Airways? London Heathrow are operating some flights to Bologna, Milan and Rome in this time period, but at much higher prices than RyanAir and EasyJet’s ticket costs.

Other possible ideas such as travelling via the Netherlands unfortunately lead to a dead-end.

From Tuesday, the UK is on their high risk list and so you can’t transit through without quarantining for 10 days.

Travel via France may be an option, despite the country placing new restrictions on the UK. Passengers can still transit through the country’s airports without needing to quarantine – though no doubt this will add an extra layer of complication and cost.

To better understand the flight schedules and the scale of cancellations between the UK and Italy, The Local has contacted Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways for comment but we have not received a response at the time of writing.

Have you been affected by flight cancellations to Italy? Please get in touch to let us know.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Please note The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases.

Member comments

  1. We have had all our flights to Bridisi cancelled, and we found out that the reason is because the airport is being revamped! We rebooked all the flights to Bari but one by one they were cancelled. EasyJet were the first to start cancelling all flights in June so we moved the flights rather than go through the process of trying to get a refund. British Airways then started to cancel flights so we moved those too. They then cancelled everything and we are left with a voucher but looking at flights for 2022, the cost of flights has almost doubled.
    BA cancelled our flights while we were in Puglia two weeks ago, so we rebooked with Ryanair, and keeping fingers crossed, for a return next week.
    Obviously due to the pandemic and lockdown here, our flights at Easter were the first casualties, then one by one each of the flights booked to take advantage of bank holiday dates, were cancelled.
    Added to this we have also been required to take a “fit to fly test” complete copious amounts of paperwork, take a test to come back to the UK, self isolate and take tests at day 2 and 8. Each of these tests has been £60, some were even £120 as we could not get the code to work on some of the websites, but in Italy just 20 Euros!
    The worry and anxiety over all of this and wondering if we would get back to our home to open up and do much needed annual renovation work has been almost unbearable.

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STRIKES

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers in Italy will face disruption again this month amid a new round of transport strikes. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel in Italy was disrupted by dozens of localised strikes in January, and this is set to continue into February as Italian unions announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services in many areas, as well as airline travel.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

Here’s an overview of February’s main strikes, which are again mainly local or regional, but include a national public transport strike on February 17th and a nationwide walkout by airport ground staff on February 28th.

February 5th-6th: Trenitalia staff in the southern Calabria region will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. See the company’s website for further information. 

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed rail services in the region is available here.

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB to protest against precarious work contracts and privatisation attempts by the Italian state.

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action or how widespread the disruption is likely to be.

February 19th: Trenitalia staff in the Veneto region will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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