Italian national airline Alitalia has been put into administration by the Italian government, after airline employees voted against a plan which would have slashed jobs and salaries to secure further state funding.
The airline insists all scheduled flights will continue as planned while administrators try to secure more funding and decide if the company can continue. Alitalia operates up to 12 flights a day from London Heathrow and London City Airport to Milan and Rome.
If you've a flight booked or are thinking of booking with Alitalia, here's what you need to know. See our Cheap Flights guide for full tips on how to cut the cost of flights.
Airline put up for sale
Alitalia has struggled financially in recent years, and in total has received €7bn from the Italian state over the last decade. Italy’s government has approved a bridging loan of €600m to keep planes flying over the next six months.
In an interview on Italian radio on Tuesday, Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said the airline would be put up for sale within 15 days and the government wants to sell off the whole company. An opinion poll on Friday found 77% of Italians think the airline should be left to fail.
Flights WILL keep running for the time being
Alitalia says there will be no impact on travellers who have already booked a flight, and all flight bookings will be honoured.
A spokesperson for the UK travel body ABTA said: “Alitalia have entered administration but all travellers who have flights booked will have their flights honoured over the next six months, the period of administration.
“As Italy’s national carrier the Italian authorities will try and find a way to keep the business going. They are looking for new funding and it is unusual for a national carrier to go out of business."
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If the worst were to happen, what are my rights if an airline goes bust?
ATOL protection means that you would be guaranteed a refund if a company were to go belly up, and you'd be found an alternative flight home if stranded abroad.
However in this case, you won't automatically have ATOL protection if you've a flight booked - it will depend on how you booked it:
- If you booked direct with Alitalia you WON'T have ATOL protection. Alitalia's not a member of ATOL, and as it's a carrier based outside the UK it doesn't have to be.
- If your flight is part of a package bought from a travel agent, you WILL have ATOL protection. ABTA says: "If you buy flights and accommodation together the flights will be covered in the event of Alitalia going belly up even if you used a travel agent that is not a member of ABTA."
- If you booked a flight only via a travel agent, you MAY have ATOL protection. Travel agents have no legal obligation to offer ATOL protection in this case, but they may - so check.
- If your flight is part of a DIY package, you WILL have protection. If you book a flight plus separate hotel or car hire at the same time (or within 24 hours) from the same travel website (not airline), you get ATOL protection, just as with a traditional package holiday.
Once you've booked a flight or holiday which is ATOL-protected, you'll receive an ATOL certificate by email, or occasionally post. If you don't get a certificate, your booking's not ATOL-protected.
Bear in mind though that while ATOL protection may mean you get a refund for your flight and/or package holiday, it won't cover other elements you may have booked completely separately – for example, if you've booked separate hotels or car hire.
Can I cancel my booking if I'm worried?
You can, but it's probably not a good idea - as flights are continuing to operate normally, if you cancel now normal refund policies and cancellation charges will apply.
What's the safest way to book a flight?
We always suggest paying for a flight on a credit card, as that way you'll often receive extra protection.
That's because when a transaction's for at least £100 (but not more than £30,000) and you pay for it using a credit card, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means the card company's equally liable if something goes wrong. (If you book a return flight, the total value must be at least £100 – if you book flights individually, each must be at least £100.) See our Section 75 guide for full help.
Flights costing less than £100 booked on a credit card, or any flights booked with a debit card, may still get some protection via the 'chargeback' scheme – see our Chargeback guide for more.
For more help see our Cheap Flights guide.