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STRIKES

The strikes set to cause travel disruption in Italy in November

Travel to, from and across Italy is set to be affected by further disruption as unions have confirmed several strikes over the coming weeks. Here are the main ones.

Airport check-in queue
Travel to, from and across Italy will be affected by a number of strikes in November. Photo by Jeroen JUMELET / AFP

After months of critical disruption to rail and airline travel – over 800 flights were cancelled as part of last month’s ‘black Friday’– Italy’s strike season seems to be nowhere near its end. 

As shown by the Italian Transport Ministry’s website, a number of strikes affecting rail and airline services as well as local public transport have already been confirmed for the month of November.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What the EU’s new EES system means for travel to Italy

Here are the demonstrations that are expected to cause the greatest amount of disruption divided by their relevant sector.

Airline strikes

November 8th: Staff from handling company Swissport Italia at Milan’s Linate Airport will strike from 10.30am to 2.30pm on Tuesday, November 8th.

There are currently no indications as to how this will affect travel on the day but we will keep you updated on all the latest developments.

November 11th: Ground and cabin staff from Spanish airline company Vueling will take part in a 24-hour strike on Friday, November 11th.

Vueling plane

Staff from airline carrier Vueling will take part in a 24-hour strike on Friday, November 11th. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Vueling hasn’t yet released any type of official communication regarding the strike. As such, severe delays and or cancellations cannot be ruled out at this time.

According to the latest media reports, the Spanish carrier will guarantee a number of “minimum services” throughout the day but neither Vueling nor ENAC, Italy’s air traffic authority, have provided any details on the subject thus far.

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

That said, in the event of strikes, flights from 7am to 10am and from 6pm to 9pm are usually guaranteed.

As in previous strikes, those meant to be travelling with Vueling on Friday are advised to get in touch with the carrier and ask for updates on their flight status.

Please keep in mind that, in the event of severe delays or cancellations, you might be entitled to compensation.

November 25th: Staff from Gesac, the company responsible for the management of Naples’ Capodichino Airport, will take part in a 24-hour strike on Friday, November 25th.

Rail strikes

November 13th: Emilia-Romagna’s Trenitalia staff will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, November 13th. 

A list of guaranteed services can be downloaded here.

Public transport

November 11th: Local public transport staff from all over the country will take part in a four-hour national strike called by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base).

The strike’s start and end times will vary from region to region or, in some cases, from city to city. 

Bus station in Rome during a local strike.

Local public transport staff will take part in a four-hour strike on Friday, November 11th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

For instance, in Milan, staff from public transport operator ATM will strike from 8.45am to 12.45pm, with significant disruption expected for both underground (metro lines) and overground (buses and trams) services.

Outside of the above-mentioned hours, services will run regularly, ATM said in a statement.

In Rome, staff from ATAC, the main public transport provider in the capital, will strike from 8.30am to 12.30pm. Further info about the strike can be found here.

Strikes in other Italian cities: 

Trieste – Local public transport staff will strike from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

Bologna – Local public transport staff will strike from 11.30am to 3.30pm.

Naples – Local public transport staff will strike from 9am to 1pm.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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. 

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