ATC Strikes to Cause Major Disruption at Italian Airports

 - October 20, 2022, 1:27 PM
Alitalia successor ITA among others stands to face severe service disruptions due to an ATC strike called for Friday. (Photo: ITA)

Flight operations in Italy face severe disruption on Friday as several unions across the country and the air transport sector have called for industrial action; marking yet another day of chaos for airlines, airports, and passengers in Europe. Employees of Italy’s air navigation service provider ENAV will go on a 24-hour strike, affecting flights at some of the country’s biggest airports including Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Bergamo, Catania, and Naples. According to a notam issued by Italy’s civil aviation authority ENAC, flights will operate during two protected time slots, 07:00-10:00 CET and 18:00-21:00 CET, under the country’s service guarantee rules.

In a statement, the FILT-CGIL, FIT-CISL, and Uiltrasporti trade unions apologized to passengers but insisted that ENAV management’s position toward the workers' requests “makes this strike action indispensable.” For too long, they stated, “we have been waiting for concrete answers regarding the application and evolution of the industrial plan, the adaptation of the staff, the organization of work shifts, and the definition of timing and contents of the renewal of the contracts.” The three unions vowed they will continue pushing their demands “with other protest actions if necessary.”

The carriers most likely affected include Ryanair, Alitalia/ITA, Wizz Air, EasyJet, and Volotea, which stood as the country’s largest operators in terms of passenger traffic in 2021, according to data from ENAC. ITA said it aims to minimize the disruption and offer same-day replacement flights to 20 percent of passengers.

Other workers within the aviation sector—including flight attendants and airport ground staff—also plan to strike intermittently throughout Friday, some in support of their ENAV colleagues and others to protest their own grievances. The FILT-CGIL and Uiltrasporti unions called for a 24-hour national strike of pilots and flight attendants of Vueling to request “the start [of] a constructive and transparent dialogue” following the redundancies of 17 of some 120 flight attendants at the low-cost carrier’s Rome base.

The October 21 strikes follow several days of industrial action by air transport workers in Italy and widespread disruption across Europe during the busy summer season as staff protested work and pay conditions and airports and airlines struggled to match a spike in post-Covid travel demand with capacity.

Earlier this week, pilots at Eurowings staged a three-day strike to demand better work conditions while a wildcat strike by security personnel responsible for boarding control at Brussels South Charleroi Airport halted all departures there from Monday through Wednesday.