Hundreds of workers on Tuesday blocked access routes to the airport of Palermo, Sicily's main city, to protest plans by crisis-hit car maker Fiat to cut thousands of jobs, police told Reuters.

According to Reuters, around 400 workers from Fiat's Termini Imerese assembly plant near Palermo stopped vehicles from going in or out of the airport causing huge traffic jams.

Reuters said the blockade spelt serious trouble for Sicily's links with the mainland, as the airport at Catania, the island's second largest city, was closed because of ash from the recent eruption of nearby volcano Mount Etna.

According to Reuters, hundreds of Termini Imerese workers on Monday blockaded Palermo's port in protest over Fiat's plans, announced last month, to cut some 8,000 jobs as it battles to cut losses and regain market share.

The plans have met with heavy protests in Sicily, one of Italy's poorest regions where unemployment runs high, Reuters noted.