Italian Air Traffic Control Announces Strike, Airlines Release Waivers

May 5, 2018

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Yet another labor action is going to impact European flights. An Air France strike is set to ground an unknown number of Air France flights on May 7 and 8. And now Italy’s Air Traffic Control union is also calling for a strike on May 8.

The Italian labor action, which is actually a combination of two national strikes and a series of strikes by local unions, is expected to affect travel in much of the country from 10am through 6pm local time. Italian regulations require that “essential services” be maintained during a strike — as a result, overflights and international arrivals will be exempt.

An airline lobbying group, Airlines For Europe, said in a statement that “Since 2010, ATC unions have caused more than 200 days of disruption resulting in cancellations and delays for millions of holiday makers across Europe.” The group has a Keep Europe Skies Open petition for travelers to “call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States to protect Europe from repeated extortion and disruption by Air Traffic Control unions.”

Unfortunately for impacted travelers, there’s not much protection against air traffic control strikes — EU261 regulations don’t provide compensation for cancellations or delays due to strikes initiated by a union. So far, only a couple of airlines are giving customers rebooking options to avoid the potential mess:

American Airlines

  • Travel date: May 8
  • Airports covered: Milan Linate, Italy (LIN); Milan Malpensa, Italy (MXP); Rome, Italy (FCO); Venice, Italy (VCE)
  • Must have purchased your ticket by May 3
  • Rebook travel anytime between May 5-11
  • Must be traveling on an American Airlines or British Airways flight
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Avoid the phone queue. Changes available on both AA’s website and in the AA app.

British Airways

  • Travel date: May 8
  • Airports covered: “any Italian airport”
  • Rebook travel anytime between May 5-11
  • “We will be using larger aircraft, where possible, to help affected customers and are doing all we can to reduce the levels of disruption.”


  • Travel date: May 7-8
  • Airports covered: “All flights to/from Italy”
  • Ticket must be reissued on or before: May 12
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: May 12
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond May 12, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply.
  • Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue. If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance. Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates.


  • No free changes available at this time.
  • Customers must still arrive at the airport for their original departure time as check in and bag drop times will not be extended.
  • For cancelled flights only, we advise customers not to travel to the airport but to transfer their flights free of charge or take a refund by logging onto Manage Bookings on or our Flight Tracker: (Your flight number).
  • “We’re working to minimise the impact of this strike, but like other airlines flying to and from Italy, we are expecting a number of cancellations and potential delays.”

No waivers released (yet) by: Air France, Air Italy, Alitalia, KLM, Lufthansa or United.

This article has been updated since publishing to add the Delta waiver.

Featured image by PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images.

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