The year 2019 looks set to be another year characterized by flight delays and cancellations caused by industrial action across Europe, at least on the airport and air traffic control (ATC) side.

Hundreds of flights are being affected in Germany because of a Jan. 10 strike by airport security workers at three key hubs, and disruption will spread to Italy a day later when the country’s air traffic controllers stop working for four hours.

Italian air navigation service provider ENAV said Jan. 5 that national strikes called by the UNICA, UGL-TA and Assivolo Quadri trade unions would take place across the country between 13:00 and 17:00 local time on Jan. 11.

At the same time, local strikes will also take place at control centers covering Rome, Milan and Brindisi, as well as at airports in Milan, Catania, Turin, Genoa, Perugia and Pescara.

Alitalia has tweeted a message to passengers urging them to “check the status of their flights before going to the airport,” and Eurocontrol advised customers to check with airlines if they are flying to and from Italy, but said that “overflights are not affected.”

Lufthansa said the Jan. 10 strike by security staff at Cologne-Bonn, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart had “severely impaired” its flights to and from the three airports.

Airlines for Europe (A4E) described 2018 as “the worst year for ATC delays and flight cancellations for a decade.” A4E said its member airlines were “forced to cancel over 5,000 flights due to ATC strikes, affecting around 800,000 passengers” in 2018. This year looks set to follow in its footsteps.

However, while industrial action is already hitting airport and ATC operations again, the outlook for strikes by airline staff appears a little less cloudy than last year. A planned strike by two unions representing Ryanair’s Spanish cabin crew, scheduled to take place Jan. 10 and 13, has now been called off.

In a Jan. 9 statement, Spain’s USO union said that after more than 14 hours of negotiations with the airline, the two sides had reached an agreement that will be sent out to members to ratify in the coming days.

USO said the deal would improve working conditions and enable Spanish staff to be employed under local labor laws. Ryanair signed a similar agreement in November with its German cabin crew union, Verdi, and with its Germany-based pilots the following month.

Ryanair had to cancel hundreds of flights across Europe last year because of industrial action by staff who want to work under the labor laws of their home countries, rather than under Irish law.

It remains to be seen whether changes at the top of another strike-hit carrier in 2018—Air France—will mean less industrial disruption this year.

Kerry Reals,