For members


How will Italy’s air traffic control strike impact flights this weekend?

Passengers flying to or from Italy can expect disruption on Sunday, April 2nd, as air traffic controllers from all around the country will strike from 1pm to 5pm. Here’s what you need to know.

Lady looking at departure board at Rome's Fiumicino airport
People flying to or from Italy can expect to face delays or cancellations on Sunday, April 2nd, due to a nationwide air traffic operators strike. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Travellers are once again set to face delays and/or cancellations on Sunday, April 2nd, due to a nationwide four-hour strike involving air traffic operators at Italy’s Enav (National Flight Assistance Authority). 

The walkout, which was called by Italian unions in early March, is scheduled to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

There currently aren’t sufficient details as to exactly what level of disruption travellers will face on the day, though as many as 200,000 passengers might have their travel plans disrupted by the walkout, according to the latest Italian media reports.

Italy’s flagship airline, ITA Airways, has so far cancelled some 78 flights scheduled to depart on Sunday, with the full list being available here

READ ALSO: Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this spring

The company said through a statement released on Friday morning that they had activated a “special plan” to minimise disruption and 35 percent of involved passengers would still be able to fly on Sunday, albeit on different flights.

They also advised all passengers with flights scheduled for Sunday to reach out directly to their own info points, which can be found here

At the time of writing, no airline other than ITA Airways has announced cancellations, though the situation is likely to evolve in the coming hours. 

As per current industry agreements, a number of flights will be guaranteed to operate during the strike. 

Notably, intercontinental flights, including those with layovers at Italian airports, will run regularly, as will any essential flight between Italy’s mainland and the islands (Sicily and Sardinia).

Furthermore, all national flights which will already be underway at the start of the strike will regularly reach their destination.

A full list of guaranteed services can be found on Enac’s (National Civil Aviation Authority) website

Flights scheduled to depart before or after the strike are currently expected to operate normally, though significant delays or airport queues resulting from the walkout cannot be ruled out yet.

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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For members


Why are flights to and from Italy so expensive this summer?

The number of people wanting to take a summer holiday this year has skyrocketed, but not everyone will be able to afford to go because of the rise in ticket prices. Why have flights to and from Italy become more expensive?

Why are flights to and from Italy so expensive this summer?

Over the past four years, airline activity has gone from being virtually non-existent because of lockdowns and travel bans during the Covid-19 pandemic, to recovering almost 100 percent over the last couple of years.  

If you’ve been looking for a flight to or from Italy in the summer, you’ll notice that the prices are higher than in previous years, and even more than before the pandemic. 

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

Furio Truzzi, president of the consumer rights association Assoutenti, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper in April that the cost of domestic flights in Italy had risen by 71.5 percent compared to the previous year, while international flights had gone up by 59 percent.

But it’s not just in Italy where these price rises have been recorded; it’s happening all over Europe.

The average cost of a return air fare from the US to Europe this year is $1,167. That’s a 36 percent increase compared to 2022 prices, Hayley Berg, lead economist for the travel site Hopper, wrote in the company’s 2023 Summer Travel Outlook report.

Why are flights so expensive this summer? 

A combination of factors are conspiring to drive the price of flights up this summer.

The most predictable is the increased cost of jet fuel due to the war in Ukraine.

CEO of easyJet Johan Lundgren told French news agency AFP that because the price of fuel has risen by 71 percent, the average rate of the low-cost carrier has increased by 31 percent (fuel costs amount to around a third of an airline’s total expenses).

Then there’s a current scarcity of raw materials with which to maintain existing aircraft and build new planes.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much more will Italian museums cost this summer?

In Boeing’s annual shareholder meeting in April, CEO David Calhoun told attendees that a quality control issue had forced the manufacturer to halt delivery on some of its new planes, meaning there would be 9,000 fewer seats available for travellers this year than expected.

Some low-cost airlines have gone bankrupt, and others’ finances are still recovering from the Covid slump, preventing them from being able to return to full capacity in terms of flight numbers.

Flights from the US to Europe will cost an estimated 36 percent more this summer.

Flights from the US to Europe will cost an estimated 36 percent more this summer. Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP.

Continual strike action by airline personnel is slowing driving up salaries for some workers, which also increases costs.

Crucially, demand for air travel in 2023 continues to outpace supply as travellers who have put their holiday plans on hold for the past few years finally take the plunge, meaning that airlines don’t need to lower their prices. 

How to get a good deal on flights

You may not be able to get flights as cheaply as you once could, but there are still several things you can do to keep your costs down.

Booking months in advance used to be one of the most surefire tactics to lock in good rates – but this seems to be less effective in 2023 than in previous years, presumably because competition is so fierce and everyone else is doing the same.

However, flights almost certainly won’t get any cheaper if you wait till the last minute for a holiday for which you have a specific destination and dates in mind, so it’s still wise to book as far in advance for this as possible.

If you’re more flexible on either location or timing, it’s worth signing up for communications and alerts from travel sites or airlines themselves, so you’re the first to hear when there’s an offer on.

There are still some ways to reduce flight costs this summer.

There are still some ways to reduce flight costs this summer. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

Avoiding the peak holiday season in July and August can also help save you money. If it’s possible, take an early summer holiday in early June or a later one towards the end of August and the beginning of September. Travelling on a Thursday instead of a Saturday can also reduce costs.

Searching a flights aggregator like Skyscanner or Momondo will show you all the options available to you for your chosen dates, including indirect routes involving stopovers, which could significantly lower your costs. 

Skyscanner is also currently trialling a new Savings Generator function that will show users the cheapest dates for travel to their chosen destination.

What are the alternatives?

It’s not helpful for transatlantic trips, but rail travel can be a great alternative to flying if you’re travelling within Europe.

Northern Italy has direct train services to France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and even to Germany.

READ ALSO: The train routes connecting Italy to the rest of Europe in 2023

The Nightjet night train will get you all the way from Rome or Florence to Munich or Vienna, allowing you to catch a good night’s sleep and save on hotel costs while you travel.

For train travel around Europe, Interrail passes can often be cheaper than buying individual train tickets, especially if you’re travelling for longer periods of time. Interrail has a youth pass that is up to 23 percent cheaper than an adult pass, which is available to anyone under 28.