Italy's civil aviation authority on Saturday took emergency action to help passengers facing the prospect of being stranded by the feared bankruptcy of low-cost airline Windjet.
Sicilian-based Windjet is threatened with the loss of its operating licence as early as Monday, affecting at least 300,000 people who have booked flights with the company up to October, according to aviation authority ENAC.
The authority said on Saturday it had set up a crisis centre to enable other airlines, including Alitalia, Meridiana and Blu Panorama, to take over Windjet's services, at a small extra cost for passengers.
Alitalia and Meridiana said they were planning extra flights between Sicily and major cities including Rome, Turin, Milan, Verona and Bologna.
Since Friday, Windjet flights have suffered cancellations and delays as the company has struggled to keep afloat after takeover talks with flag-carrier Alitalia broke down.
Alitalia walked out of the negotiations begun several months ago after Windjet boss Stefano Rantuccio accused it of trying to impose damaging conditions on his company.
Alitalia charged that Windjet clearly had no intention of respecting provisional agreements aimed at saving the budget operator.
Italy's minister for economic development has called both parties to a meeting in Rome on Tuesday to try to reach a last-minute reconciliation.