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What to expect from Friday’s strikes in Italy

Travellers have been warned to expect more disruption from strikes on Friday, November 11th. From trains to planes and local public transport, here's how services will be affected.

What to expect from Friday’s strikes in Italy
Friday is a strike day in Italy. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Travellers are once again expected to face strike disruption affecting travel to, from and across Italy on Friday, November 11th.

The new round of demonstrations, which threaten to replicate last month’s ‘venerdì nero’ (black Friday), include a 24-hour strike from Vueling staff.

READ ALSO: The strikes set to cause travel disruption in Italy in November

Public tranport strikes will also affect commuters in several Italian cities, though the hours and services affected will vary across the country.

Here’s the latest info on how the planned strikes will impact travel.

Flights

As previously reported by The Local, ground and cabin staff from Spanish airline company Vueling will take part in a 24-hour strike.

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

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

Vueling plane

Staff from Spanish airline Vueling will take part in a 24-hour strike over job security and holiday pay agreements. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

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 further details.

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

Friday’s strike will be the third demonstration in little over a month for Italy-based Vueling personnel, after the two previous strikes on October 1st and October 21st.

Italian unions representing Vueling staff have said that strike actions will continue until their demands – over greater job security and new agreements over holiday pay – are met.

READ ALSO: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

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

Local operators in several Italian regions will strike at varying times on Friday.

Train services run by Trenord around Milan, Brescia, Como and surrounding areas will be affected on Friday morning from 9.01am until 1pm, including Milan airport links. See full details here.

In Piedmont Ferrovienord services will be interrupted between 9am and 1pm.

In the southern region of Puglia, Ferrovie Sud Est will join the strike from 5pm-9pm.

Public transport

Aside from the Vueling staff strike, local public transport staff from all over the country are expected to take part in a four-hour national strike called by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) earlier this week. 

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

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.

Bus station in Rome

Public transport staff from all over the country will take part in a four-hour national strike, with the start and end time varying according to the location. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Outside of these 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.

In other cities, local public transport staff will strike at the following times, according to Italian media reports on Thursday:

Trieste –  6.30pm to 10.30pm

Bologna and Ferra –  11.30am to 3.30pm

Naples – 9am to 1pm

Bari and Brindisi – 8:30am to 12:30pm

Lecce – 3pm to 7pm

Trento – 11:00 to 15:00

Bolzano – 3pm to 7pm (buses only)

Varese – 3:30 to 7:30pm (Varesine buses)

Pavia – 24 hours

Livorno – 5.30pm to 9.30pm

La Spezia – 11am to 3pm

Rimini, Cesena and Forlì –5.30pm to 9pm.

Strike action in other Italian cities had not been confirmed at the time of writing.

Anyone planning to travel on public transport on Friday is advised to check the status of services in their city before setting off.

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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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