As the summer holiday season approaches for British holidaymakers, France and Italy’s aviation workers are launching the first major strikes of the year. At the end of last week, some of the workers employed at Italian airports, Air Italy, and Alitalia staged a walkout from 12 noon to 4 in the evening local time.
EasyJet, which operates several flights from/to the UK to/from Italy, continued to operate as per its original schedule. The airline had earlier recommended that all passengers flying out of Italy at the end of the week should make it a point to reach the airport earlier than usual.
The airline also released a statement in which it apologized for the disruption and claimed it as being out of its control. It also assured customers that everything was being done to minimize disruption and provide maximum comfort.
Other airlines, like Alitalia, which connects Milan and Rome with London and Manchester, did not give out any information regarding the impact of the strikes on their respective schedules.
British Airways communicated that its schedule would not be impacted
A 4-hour strike by ATC staff employed at the Italian organization ENVA was postponed due to continued negotiations.
The French Continued with their strikes
The French ATC staff, on the other hand, organized strikes along with millions of other public servants to protest Macron’s plans to change the working conditions within public services. The ATC staff here planned to stage a walkout from May 8th to May 10th.
Since many flights within Europe do fly over France, there were bound to be several cancellations and delays. However, it was difficult to determine the impact in advance. This, in turn, made it impossible for passengers to come up with alternative plans.
The future of Alitalia, a highly unprofitable Italian national carrier, also became a topic of interest amidst the hoopla surrounding the strikes. The carrier has been under special administration since 2016 and was expected to receive fresh funding by the end of April.
However, the two organizations said to have been involved in rescuing the failing airline, Italian State Railways and Delta Airlines, are now claiming that they cannot invest the entire amount needed to fund a complete takeover.
As of now, the deadline has been extended by the Italian government, which will be continuing to provide financial support. The airline has a €900 million bridging loan from the Italian government.
Determining compensation can prove to be difficult in these situations. Strikes organized by airline or airport staff is a grey area of sorts. It is possible for such strikes to be clubbed under “extraordinary circumstances”, which invalidates compensation claims.
However, there have been cases in the past where some carriers were forced to pay compensation even when the strikes were beyond their control. Courts ruled in favour of passengers, stating that the carriers had advance knowledge of these strikes and therefore, could have made arrangements to minimize the discomfort faced by passengers.