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What are the upcoming strikes in Italy and how could they impact you?

As strikes continue to affect flights, rail and public transport services in Italy, we take a look at how upcoming protests may impact travel plans.

Woman in front of departure board at Fiumicino airport in Rome
Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Transport strikes are hardly unusual in Italy and, to some extent, the nature of the country’s union landscape itself contributes to their frequency. 

But strike action has been exceedingly intense over the past few months, with airline, train and public transport passengers facing disruption from nationwide demonstrations on multiple occasions.

As things stand, the trend looks set to continue in the coming weeks as two more major nationwide demonstrations loom on the horizon: a general public transport strike on Friday, May 26th and a 24-hour airport staff strike on June 4th, which was postponed from May 19th. 

Here’s a look at what you can expect from the upcoming walkouts and how they might affect your travel plans. 

May 26th: Public transport staff around the country will take part in a 24-hour walkout on Friday, May 26th.

The strike was called earlier this month by USB (Unione Sindacati di Base) – one of Italy’s main trade unions – in protest against precarious work contracts and low wages.

The walkout will affect all forms of public transport – from surface services (buses, trolleybuses and trams) to metro lines and ferries – as well as taxi services. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are there so many transport strikes in Italy?

Rail services are also set to be impacted, though, as currently indicated by Italy’s Transport Ministry, the walkout should only last eight hours – from 9am to 5pm – in their case. 

Crowded bus station in Italy

All public transport services, from buses to metro lines to ferries, are expected to be affected by delays or cancellations on Friday, May 26th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Airline and airport staff will not take part in the demonstration. 

Though no details are currently available about exactly how much disruption people will face on the day, significant delays or cancellations to all involved services are expected during the strike. 

The impact is also expected to vary by region and city. Strike action has so far been confirmed by public transport staff in many northern cities including Turin, Milan and Bologna, as well as those at regional transport operators around the country.

By law however, all public transport operators in Italy are required to provide ‘minimum services’ (servizi essenziali or minimi in Italian) during strike actions to allow commuters to make the journey to and from their destination.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

Minimum services are generally guaranteed to operate during two separate time windows, one in the morning (usually between 7am and 10am) and the other one in the evening (between 6pm and 9pm). 

As such, if you’re planning on travelling on May 26th, you’re strongly advised to check out the planned minimum services of the relevant transport companies.

June 4th: Airport handling staff from all around the country will take part in a 24-hour walkout on Sunday, June 4th.

The demonstration was originally scheduled for Friday, May 19th but was rescheduled to the current date after devastating floods ravaged the northern Emilia Romagna region on May 17th.

Since at least four of Italy’s largest transport workers’ unions will take part in the strike, the protest is expected to cause some level of disruption at all of Italy’s major airports, especially at check-in desks and in baggage collection areas.

Empty check-in desks during a strike

Airport staff from all around the country and cabin crews from several major airlines will strike on Sunday, June 4th. Photo by Andre PAIN / AFP

In a separate demonstration, staff from several airlines are set to hold protests on this date.

READ ALSO: Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this spring

Staff at Spanish airlines Volotea and Vueling, and Air Dolomiti – a subsidiary of Lufthansa operating routes from Germany to 13 different Italian destinations – are expected to take part in a 24-hour nationwide strike.

Meanwhile, ground staff from American Airlines and Emirates are expected to strike for four hours, between 12pm and 4pm.

Flights run by any of these airlines may experience delays or cancellations on the day, though no details have been given yet.

Under Italian law, flights scheduled to leave between 7am and 10am and between 6pm and 9pm are protected from strike action. 

A full list of guaranteed flights is generally released by Italy’s Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) on this web page in the days prior to the strike.

Passengers travelling on Sunday, June 4th are strongly advised to check the status of their flight with their airline prior to their journey.

There currently aren’t any national transport strikes scheduled beyond June 4th, though a number of minor local walkouts are scheduled to take place in the following days and weeks. 

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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Italy hit by rail strikes in protest over fatal train crash

Italy's rail staff were to strike for eight hours on Thursday, November 30th, in a protest over safety after a fatal train crash in Calabria this week.

Italy hit by rail strikes in protest over fatal train crash

The protest, announced late on Wednesday, was expected to affect services operated by national operators Trenitalia and Italo between 9am and 5pm on Thursday.

FS Italiane and Trenord staff also planned to take part in a 24-hour strike from 9pm on Thursday to 9pm on Friday.

There would be “possible repercussions” for Frecce, Intercity and Regionale services throughout the strike, according to news reports.

Trenitalia warned that the strikes could impact services scheduled before and after these hours.

Trade unions said the protest was to demand greater safety standards on Italy’s railways following a collision between a regional passenger train and a truck at a level crossing in Cosenza, in the southern region of Calabria.

According to the latest national media reports, the train conductor, a 61-year-old Italian woman and the driver of the truck were both killed in the collision, while passengers aboard the train were unharmed.

National news outlet RaiNews reported that the truck became stuck on the tracks as it was going through the Corigliano Rossano level crossing and was then hit by the regional train as it travelled at a speed of 130 kilometres per hour.

Italy’s railway network operator RFI expressed “sorrow and grief for the victims” on Wednesday. 

An official investigation into the dynamics of the incident was being carried out by Italy’s railway police force and local Carabinieri officers, news agency ANSA reported.

Guaranteed services

As is generally the case with transport strikes in Italy, a number of essential services (servizi essenziali) will be guaranteed to operate during the walkout. 

Private high-speed train company Italo released a list of guaranteed services on Wednesday evening.

A list of Trenitalia services that are generally protected from planned strike action can be found on their website.

Trenord, which operates a number of short- to medium-distance routes in the Lombardy region, said that trains scheduled to depart between 6am and 9am and between 6pm and 9pm will operate as normal.