As flight cancellations and delays continued to hit many of Europe’s major airport terminals this week, the Italian government has warned passengers to “travel light”.
“Travellers are advised to only carry hand luggage […] so as to avoid long waiting times for the recovery of their belongings,” read a press release from the Italian Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility (MIMS).
European airports have been affected by critical levels of disruption for months, and the chaos is set to continue throughout the summer.
The latest data from the global flight airline analysis firm Citrium shows that airlines have cancelled 25,378 flights from their August schedules, of which 15,788 are in Europe.
Airlines across Europe have been struggling with staff shortages, with passengers reporting chaotic scenes and long queues at airports.
Between June 1st and June 21st, as many as 8,228 flights were cancelled across Europe.
The current air traffic disruption is due to a “dramatic lack of personnel” resulting from layoffs during the Covid pandemic, according to Italy’s infrastructure and mobility minister Enrico Giovannini.
Besides widespread staff shortages, repeated strikes called by staff at low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air have recently further aggravated the problems, leaving thousands of European passengers stranded.
So far, Italian airports haven’t seen the levels of disruption reported in many neighbouring countries, though the knock-on effect of widespread problems around Europe means delays are not uncommon in Italy either.
Strike action meant a number of passengers experienced a moderate degree of disruption on June 25th, but very few flights have been cancelled thus far.
A four-hour national strike has been called in Italy for Sunday, July 17th but, at the time of writing, it isn’t yet clear how much disruption the scheduled protests will cause to travel into and out of the country.
So far, Spain has indisputably been the hardest-hit country as two three-day strikes held in late June grounded more than 200 flights and caused over a thousand delays. More strikes are now scheduled for the second half of July.
Record queues were reported at a number of major German airport terminals and at Amsterdam Schiphol, where passengers are currently being advised to get to the airport no more than four hours before departure to avoid overcrowding.
In a preemptive bid to avoid major disruption, Italy’s Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) said it had liaised with all national airports to ensure passengers are provided with “appropriate and immediate assistance” in case of delays and/or cancellations in the country.