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TRAVEL NEWS

‘Travel light’: Italy warns passengers amid European flight chaos

Italian passengers were told not to fly with too many suitcases this summer as travel plans are threatened by major disruption at airports around Europe.

Passenger queue - El Prat Airport (Spain)
Passengers from all over Europe are facing delays and cancellations as staff shortages keep affecting air traffic. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

As flight cancellations and delays continued to hit many of Europe’s major airport terminals this week, the Italian government has warned passengers to “travel light”.

“Travellers are advised to only carry hand luggage […] so as to avoid long waiting times for the recovery of their belongings,” read a press release from the Italian Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility (MIMS). 

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights due to staff shortages

European airports have been affected by critical levels of disruption for months, and the chaos is set to continue throughout the summer.

The latest data from the global flight airline analysis firm Citrium shows that airlines have cancelled 25,378 flights from their August schedules, of which 15,788 are in Europe.

Airlines across Europe have been struggling with staff shortages, with passengers reporting chaotic scenes and long queues at airports.

Between June 1st and June 21st, as many as 8,228 flights were cancelled across Europe.

The current air traffic disruption is due to a “dramatic lack of personnel” resulting from layoffs during the Covid pandemic, according to Italy’s infrastructure and mobility minister Enrico Giovannini.

Besides widespread staff shortages, repeated strikes called by staff at low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air have recently further aggravated the problems, leaving thousands of European passengers stranded.

Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport: passengers queueing.

Travellers queue at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where passengers are currently being advised to get to the check-in counter no more than four hours before departure. Photo by Jeroen JUMELET / ANP / AFP

So far, Italian airports haven’t seen the levels of disruption reported in many neighbouring countries, though the knock-on effect of widespread problems around Europe means delays are not uncommon in Italy either.

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

Strike action meant a number of passengers experienced a moderate degree of disruption on June 25th, but very few flights have been cancelled thus far. 

A four-hour national strike has been called in Italy for Sunday, July 17th but, at the time of writing, it isn’t yet clear how much disruption the scheduled protests will cause to travel into and out of the country.

So far, Spain has indisputably been the hardest-hit country as two three-day strikes held in late June grounded more than 200 flights and caused over a thousand delays. More strikes are now scheduled for the second half of July.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Record queues were reported at a number of major German airport terminals and at Amsterdam Schiphol, where passengers are currently being advised to get to the airport no more than four hours before departure to avoid overcrowding.

In a preemptive bid to avoid major disruption, Italy’s Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) said it had liaised with all national airports to ensure passengers are provided with “appropriate and immediate assistance” in case of delays and/or cancellations in the country.

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STRIKES

How Italy’s transport strikes will impact travel on Friday

Transport workers in Italy have announced another strike on Friday, December 2nd: here's how travellers will be affected.

How Italy's transport strikes will impact travel on Friday

Travellers in Italy face further disruption this week with the latest in a string of national transport strikes called for the coming Friday.

Flights, trains, taxis and local public transport will be affected, as well as some schools and health facilities and the logistics sector.

The strike is part of a coordinated action between multiple national and local trade unions, reports Skytg24.

Worker demands include the introduction of a national minimum wage and a pay rise in line with inflation, as well as a freeze on military spending and increased investment in schools and the public health and transport sectors.

Here’s a closer look at how the strikes will affect travel on Friday.

Flights

Staff from the Spanish carrier Vueling will strike for 24 hours on December 2nd, in protest against the latest round of redundancies announced by the company, likely impacting flights to and from Italy.

Vueling hasn’t confirmed how flights will be affected, but delays or cancellations can’t be ruled out.

At the time of writing, no other airlines appear to be involved in the strike.

Vueling staff will strike against planned redundancies on Friday.

Vueling staff will strike against planned redundancies on Friday. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

Ground staff at airports across Italy will participate in the action, meaning significant disruption could be caused to those flying with other carriers.

Italy’s national civil aviation agency Enac has published a list of the flight numbers and routes that will be protected from cancellation.

Flights from 7am to 10am and from 6pm to 9pm are usually guaranteed to operate in Italy, as are any flights due to depart or arrive before the scheduled strike times but delayed for reasons beyond anyone’s control.

All incoming intercontinental flights, including those for which Italy is the transit country, are also guaranteed.

As in previous strikes, those meant to be travelling with Vueling on Friday are advised to check their flight status with the carrier before setting off.

In the event of severe delays or cancellations you might be entitled to compensation. See our guide for further details.

Trains

Staff of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS), Italy’s national state-owned rail company, will strike for 24 hours from 9pm on December 1st until 9pm on December 2nd, the company has announced.

FS subsidiary Trenitalia has published lists of all the services that are guaranteed to continue in the event of a strike; here is their list of national train routes that should be unaffected by the strike on Thursday and Friday.

National and regional train services will be affected by Italy's strikes on Friday.

National and regional train services will be affected by Italy’s strikes on Friday. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

For regional services, you can search the Trenitalia site by region to find out which train services are guaranteed.

An additional document provides links to services guaranteed by smaller, local rail companies in some parts of the country.

FS notes that delays and disruption to travel could occur before and after the strike’s planned start and finish time.

In some regions, such as Lombardy, services between 6-9am and 6-9pm, as well as certain other routes considered essential, are guaranteed.

Public transport

Local strikes will take place in a number of Italian cities and regions on Friday, with the timing varying from place to place.

In Milan, staff from city public transport operator ATM will strike at various points throughout the day. Significant disruption to buses, trams and trolley services is expected from 8.45am to 3pm and after 6pm.

Metro services are guaranteed until 6pm, after which travel may be disrupted. The Como-Brunate funicular will likely have limited service from 8.30am to 4.30pm and from 7.30pm to the end of service.

It’s still unclear at this stage whether taxi drivers will participate.

In Rome, major disruptions on bus, tram, and trail services are expected from 8.30am to 5pm and from 8pm to the end of service. Again, it’s currently unclear whether taxis will participate.

Bus services in Rome and other Italian cities will be disrupted on Friday.

Bus services in Rome and other Italian cities will be disrupted on Friday. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

In Naples, staff from public transport operator ANM will strike, causing disruption to Metro Line 1, the Montesanto, Chiaia, Centrale and Mergellina funiculars, and on buses and trams.

And in Bologna, bus and other ground transport services will be disrupted between 8.30am and 4.30pm and from 19.30pm until the end of the service.

Transport operators in other cities have yet to confirm strike action.

It is advisable for all passengers planning to travel in Italy on Friday to consult their transport operator before setting off.

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