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Planes and trains: Italy’s calendar for 2022 summer strikes

Unions representing railway, airline and public transport staff have already called several strikes in Italy this summer - but will more disruption follow?

Planes and trains: Italy’s calendar for 2022 summer strikes
Employees of Italian airline Alitalia take part in a protest outside a terminal of Rome's Fiumicino airport on October 15, 2021, as new Italian airline company ITA commences operations. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Strikes are a regular occurrence during Italy’s early and late summer – especially in the transport sector.

This year is no exception. Strikes over wages and working conditions began in June and continued throughout July, causing significant disruption to those travelling to, from and within the country. 

Industrial action in Italy’s transport sector is however paused during the peak summer travel period from the end of July to the beginning of September.

Now that the summer transport strike break is over, strikes are restarting in early September.

With strikes being so heavily regulated in Italy, the transport ministry has a handy calendar showing any scheduled local, regional or national strike action, which you can find here.

But unplanned demonstrations can’t be ruled out – for example in the case of taxi drivers, who have held a series of unannounced demonstrations in Rome and other cities this summer.

Here we’ll list any national strikes likely to cause serious disruption.

Public transport 

Public transport staff will take part in a nationwide eight-hour strike on Friday, September 16th.

The strike will last from 9am until 5pm, with significant delays and/or cancellations expected for all types of public transport, especially local and interregional rail services. 

READ ALSO: Italy hit by travel disruption in national rail strike on Friday

The strike action was called by a series of Italian trade unions to protest against “the violent and reiterated physical attacks suffered by drivers, ticket inspectors and station masters […] from all over the country in the past few months”.

More details about the strike can be found here.

Rail strikes

Staff from Trenitalia Tper, the company operating train services in the Emilia-Romagna region, will take part in a 23-hour strike between Sunday, September 18th and Monday, September 19th.

The strike action will start at 3.31am on Sunday and end at 2.30am on Monday. However, Trenitalia Tper has informed customers that the strike “might cause disruption to regular services before its start and after its conclusion”. 

They’ve also added that delays and cancellations might not be limited to Emilia-Romagna but affect “surrounding regions” as well. 

By law, all Italian railway companies must guarantee a minimum number of essential services during strike actions. Guaranteed train services for Emilia-Romagna are available here.

There are no other nationwide rail strikes currently planned.

Should any last-minute strikes be organised, national operator Trenitalia, which runs high-speed Frecce services as well as many regional and local lines, ensures “minimum transport services” in agreement with trade unions.

See more about guaranteed services from Trenitalia.

Fair warning: you can expect delays, overcrowding and cancellations even before or after the actual strike times.

Airline strikes

There are no nationwide airline strikes currently planned.

However, airlines continue to advise passengers to check the status of their flight before starting their journey.

Please note that cancellations or delays can also be caused by strikes affecting airports in other countries, and some flights may be cancelled due to staff shortages in countries other than Italy.

For information on the compensation air passengers might be entitled to in case of flight delays or cancellations, check out our guide here.

How bad are strikes in Italy?

National strikes often turn out to be less disruptive than expected, partly because both railway operators and airlines tend to guarantee essential services during all strike actions.

However, the magnitude of any planned demonstration largely depends on the level of participation by  staff in the industries involved.

And in the case of airports and airlines, the country doesn’t seem to have been hit by the severe staffing shortages seen in some other EU states. This is likely due to Italy’s ban on layoffs amid the pandemic and the financial incentives offered to companies to keep staff on reduced hours instead of firing them.

What’s the reason behind summer strikes?

Most of the strikes are over wage disputes, with unions saying that the soaring cost of living should result in salary increases for staff. Some unions mentioned “arbitrary wage cuts” and “companies’ refusal to grant minimum annual leave over the summer” as well.

However, the public transport strike scheduled for September 16th was called to demand greater safety measures for staff after a series of violent incidents.

In a recent press release, unions have criticised employers for their “intolerable” failure to “intervene in defence of their staff”, with further strikes to be expected should the present requests not be met. 

This article will be updated throughout the summer.

Member comments

  1. Thank you for the strike summary. If there a web site that details the strikes (to include train/plan lines/routes and times) that can be referenced which is kept up to date?

  2. Hello, there was a local train strike last weekend 10-11 July in Tuscany and Emeglia Romana but you did not mention it here. It was extremely disruptive.

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UK border control strikes threaten Christmas travel chaos to and from Italy

Planned industrial action by British border force staff is threatening to complicate or even ruin Christmas travel plans for thousands of people going between Italy and the UK over the festive period.

UK border control strikes threaten Christmas travel chaos to and from Italy

Travellers arriving at the UK’s biggest airports over the Christmas period could face severe delays entering the country and even risk having their flights cancelled as a result of strike action by British border force staff.

The planned strike action would take place from December 23rd until December 26th and then from December 28th to New Year’s Eve.

The UK’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned travellers heading to and from the UK over Christmas and New Year to expect severe disruption and to rethink travel plans if strike action goes ahead.

“If they go ahead with those strikes there will be undeniable serious disruption caused to many thousands of people who have holiday plans,” the minister said. “I really want to urge people who have got plans to travel abroad to think carefully about their plans because they may well be impacted.”

A senior UK Border Force official told Britain’s i newspaper that “travellers can expect long queues at the airports affected by the strikes. We’re looking at similar waits as when we had all the Covid protocol issues in summer 2021 when queues of 10 to 12 hours were not unusual.”

“Passengers should also expect flight cancellations due to staff shortages,” they added, “so should keep in touch with their airlines before travel.”

The government has been preparing for the strike by training 600 soldiers to check passports. Reports have claimed up to 30 percent of flights could be affected if strike action goes ahead.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has voted for strike action over pay and conditions from December 23rd until the end of the year, with the exception of December 27th, that will affect all major UK airports.

The walkouts threaten to ruin Christmas travel plans for thousands of people coming from around the world, including Britons who live in Italy hoping to return home for the festive period, perhaps for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those wanting to enjoy a warmer Christmas break in Italy.

British media outlets estimate that as many as two million passengers have booked to fly in and out of Britain over the Christmas period on at least 10,000 flights scheduled to arrive at the affected airports.

Where are the walkouts?

Around 1000 Border Force staff are set to walk out from all of the UK’s busiest airports, including Heathrow (Terminals 2,3,4 and 5), Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, and also the port of Newhaven.

The strikes will fundamentally affect passport checks for arrivals into Britain, as 75 percent of passport control staff are PCS union members.

Christmas is already one of the busiest travel times of the year, and walkouts from border staff are likely to cause severe delays and cancellations. Some British media outlets are even reporting that passengers could be left to wait on their planes on the runway, something that would then have a knock-on effect on other incoming flights.

Though passports aren’t usually checked on outbound flights, arriving aircraft often turn around and set off on their next outbound journey within an hour or two. If queues for arrivals become so bad that passengers are kept on the runway, outbound flights will be delayed and departures could be cancelled.

A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement that “passengers should be prepared for potential disruption.”

Various affected airports have made preemptive statements expecting major delays and cancellations.

“We expect it will be necessary for airlines to cancel some services on the days impacted by strike action to ensure the number of arriving passengers aligns with lower UK Border Force resources,” a spokesman from Manchester airport said in a statement. “Arriving passengers should also be prepared for much longer immigration queues on strike days, owing to reduced Border Force staffing levels.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The Home Office advises that immigration and customs checks may take longer during peak times on strike days… Passengers are advised to check their flight status with their airline before travelling.” they added.

The British Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, has said that “the government does have mitigations in place,” which is thought to include army personnel and volunteers filling in for the striking staff.

What if I have flights booked?

As the strike action has just been announced, normal cancellation rules still apply (for now) so don’t cancel your flight just yet. If your flight is cancelled by the airline, however, as is expected for many carriers in the coming weeks, your regular rights will apply, including the possibility of being flown via another route, even on another airline if necessary, and hotels should be provided if you are kept overnight.

However, it is worth noting that as Christmas is a peak travel period anyway, finding extra seats as flights are cancelled to soften the impact of the strikes may be difficult.

It remains to be seen if, when, and how many flights will be cancelled. Cancellations are expected by all major airports, who have advised that passengers check the status of their flights before travelling.

For those who are set on travelling, expect severe delays at passport control, and keep an eye on the status of your flight in the coming weeks.