Airline strikes to disrupt flights to and from Italy on Sunday

Air traffic controllers and airline workers from three low-cost airlines will strike across Italy at the weekend, a move set to cause further disruption for passengers.

Airline strikes in Italy, Sunday, July 17th
Flight delays and/or cancellations are likely to affect Italian air traffic on Sunday after workers from several low-cost companies have announced a four-hour strike. Photo by Jeroen JUMELET / ANP / AFP

The four-hour national strike scheduled for Sunday July 17th between 2pm and 6pm will involve air traffic controllers from Italy’s ENAV group, and pilots and flight attendants from EasyJet, Volotea and Ryanair and Crewlink, unions confirmed.

The strike, the latest in a series of protests in Italy in recent weeks over pay and conditions, comes at the height of the busy summer holiday season.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights in August

While unions representing Ryanair staff had previously announced strike action planned for Sunday, those representing staff at EasyJet and Volotea confirmed on Wednesday they would join the protest following an unsuccessful meeting with officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure.

No details were immediately available as to how much disruption the strike would cause or which flights would be affected.

The Uiltrasporti union said pilots and flight attendants from the low-cost airlines were working under “continuing unacceptable conditions”, accusing EasyJet of unjustified dismissals and Volotea of lowering minimum wages.

The unions said air traffic controllers were suffering from Enav’s “manifest inability to communicate and manage personnel”, and threatened further protests if demands were not met.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

They said they had asked Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure to open an “air transport crisis table” involving low-cost airlines to deal with wage and working condition issues.

EasyJet said in a statement it had been informed of the planned strike from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Sunday and said it was “doing everything possible to minimise any impact and limit disruption.”

Sunday’s strike is just the last one of a series of demonstrations that have affected the air travel industry over the past month – previous strikes were held on June 8th and June 25th.

It comes amid continuing chaos at airports around Europe, with many passengers suffering cancellations and significant delays.

The Italian government this week warned passengers to “travel light” to avoid long queues at check-in counters or when recovering their belongings.

On Tuesday, Italian consumer groups Codacons and Assoutenti accused airlines of being “irresponsible”, saying that they were ready to file lawsuits should passengers’ rights continue to be undermined.

In the event of delays and/or cancellations, the rights of all passengers are protected by EU regulation EC 261. This applies to any air passenger flying within the EU/Schengen zone, arriving in the EU/Schengen zone from a non-EU country by means of a EU-based airline (all airlines involved in Sunday’s strike are EU-based) or departing from the EU/Schengen zone.  

This law holds airlines financially accountable for any flight disruptions they happen to be responsible for. That includes disruptions caused by airline staff strikes, including pilots, cabin crew, engineers and any other employees working directly for the company of interest.

Should your flight be significantly delayed or cancelled, you might be entitled to receive compensation from your airline. 

You can find valuable information regarding flight delay or cancellation compensation on the website of claims management company AirHelp

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Italy’s summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

Tourist spending in Italy is set to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer, boosted largely by visitors from the US, says a new industry report.

Italy's summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

Italy’s tourism earnings are predicted to total €17 billion this summer, restoring the industry to a state of health not seen since the start of the pandemic, according to a study released by the retailers’ association Comfcommercio on Monday.

Americans are the lead drivers of the recovery, the report shows, with 2.2 million US visitors expected to bring in €2.1 billion between July and September – 20 percent more than over the same period in 2019.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

Canadians, Australians and South Africans are also anticipated to make up a significant proportion of this year’s visitors.

The high value of the dollar against the euro is thought to be partly responsible for this year’s boom in US arrivals.

The euro slipped to parity with the dollar for the first time in nearly 20 years this month, as a cut in Russian gas supplies to Europe heightened fears of a recession in the eurozone.

It has since recovered a little, to around $1.02 per euro, but remains a huge bargain for visitors, giving tourists from dollar countries a spending power boost of well over 10 percent from six months ago.

The number of Spanish arrivals is also expected to return pre-pandemic levels this summer, with an estimated one million visitors due to arrive between July and September.

Domestic tourism is also up, with 35 million Italians travelling on holiday in their own country despite an ongoing cost of living crisis caused by soaring inflation and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, according to a separate study by the agricultural association Coldiretti.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

By contrast, the number of tourists coming to Italy from Asian countries is down; while EU sanctions introduced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have seen Russian tourism drop to near zero.

Germany, a key source of tourism particularly in the Italian south, was down 27 percent in July compared to 2019 – a drop thought to be caused by air travel disruption.

In a typical year, the majority of Italy’s tourists (14.1 percent) come from Germany, figures from Italy’s National Statistics Agency Istat show. Around three percent come from the US, and another three percent from the UK.

“The return of foreign tourism after three years helps to consolidate our economic recovery. The outlook, however, is uncertain due to the decrease in consumption, the unrest in air transport and the unknown pandemic,” said Confcommercio president Carlo Sangalli in a televised statement.

“Support for the tourism sector must therefore be among the priorities of the next executive in terms of combating expensive energy and reducing the tax burden,” he added.

Italy will vote for a new government in late September after its ‘unity’ coalition government collapsed in July, triggering snap elections.