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STRIKES

The strikes affecting travel in Italy in December 2023

The year is almost over but Italy's transport strikes are not, as there are still several dates on the calendar for travellers to be aware of.

The strikes affecting travel in Italy in December 2023
People wait for buses at Rome's Termini station during a strike. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The holiday season is fast approaching, and December is normally a relatively quiet month in Italy when it comes to strikes and demonstrations affecting flights, trains, and public transport.

But this time, there are several strike dates which travellers need to be aware of in the coming weeks, with an additional strike now set to cause disruption nationwide on December 15th, after it was postponed from November 27th.

READ ALSO: What are my rights in Italy if a flight is cancelled or delayed?

Below we’ve listed the major strikes which are expected to cause the most disruption, and you can see all of the smaller local and regional strikes planned for the coming weeks on the Italian transport ministry’s strike calendar

December 7th – Public transport strike

Scattered public transport strikes will hit cities across Italy on Thursday, December 7th, including Naples, Messina, Verona, Udine and Bolzano.

Strike action is also set to affect local rail services in the Emilia-Romagna region.

The duration and severity of strikes will vary by city. Anyone planning to use public transport on this date is advised to check the status of their service with the operator.

December 15th – Public transport strike

A major nationwide strike affecting public transport in cities across Italy was pushed back from Monday, November 27th to Friday, December 15th after Italy’s transport minister moved to limit its duration.

The rescheduled protest is set to affect bus, subway and tram services, with timing and severity varying in Rome, Milan and other cities across Italy, at the start of one of the busiest travel and shopping weekends of the year just 10 days before Christmas.

As this is a local public transport strike, it is not expected to impact flights or long-distance and interregional rail services.

Trams, buses, metro and local train services are set to be affected by upcoming strikes. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

December 15th – Baggage handlers’ strike at Linate and Malpensa airports

Passengers flying to or from Milan Linate and Milan Malpensa may face delays at check-in desks and luggage collection areas on Sunday, December 17th as baggage handlers at both airports plan to strike from 1pm to 5pm.

It’s currently unclear whether the walkout, which is backed by four of Italy’s largest airport workers unions, may affect the scheduled departure times of any outbound flights.

Strike exemption period

There currently are no other planned nationwide or local protests affecting Italian airports in December.

During the peak travel period between December 18th to January 7th, strikes affecting the air travel sector are banned altogether under one of Italy’s periodi di franchigia, or ‘exemption periods’.

How bad are strikes in Italy?

Strikes in Italy are frequent but not all of them cause significant disruption for travellers.

The severity of disruption caused by any strike in the country largely depends on how many staff in any part of the transport sector decide to participate on the day.

Even in the case of highly disruptive strikes, some essential services (or servizi minimi) are guaranteed to run at peak times. This goes for all transport sectors, from local public transport to rail and air travel.

Keep up with the latest updates in The Local’s strike news section.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Is start date for EES biometric passport checks set to be delayed again?

The EU's new EES system of biometric passport checks at borders has already been repeatedly delayed, but now there are reports that it could be pushed back again amid concerns that transport terminals - especially in the UK - are not ready.

Is start date for EES biometric passport checks set to be delayed again?

After several postponements, the new EU border security system known as the Entry & Exit System (EES) is due to go live in the autumn of 2024.

The European Commission has never officially confirmed the exact start date, but information sent to airports and other transport terminals indicated Sunday, October 6th as the likely start date.

However, now the British newspaper The Independent has reported that it has been delayed again, albeit only for a few weeks, with the likely new start date Sunday, November 10th.

At the time of writing the Commission has not released a firm start date, but The Local has requested further clarification.

The Independent also reports that the EU is considering allowing a ‘soft launch’ which will allow transport operators to be excused from collecting full biometric data on all travellers if there are significant delays at a border crossing point. The Local has asked the Commission for clarification on this point.

The system is causing a major headache for ports and rail terminals in the UK, with fears of long tailbacks at entry points such as the Port of Dover or the Eurostar St Pancras terminal. 

The problems are particularly acute at the UK-France border because of high travel volumes, the juxtaposed borders and the fact that Brits are no longer EU citizens and are therefore subject to EES checks.

READ ALSO Why is the UK-France border such a problem for EES checks? 

The EES system was designed prior to Brexit, when UK travellers were still EU citizens and would therefore not have been required to complete EES pre-registration.

You can read more about exactly how EES will affect different modes of transport on the links below;

The first time that passengers cross an external EU/Schengen zone border after the introduction of the system they will be required to provide biometric data including facial scans and fingerprints.

These must be collected on site, and there are fears that the extra requirements will lead to long queues at border crossings.

The checks only apply to non-EU citizens, while non-EU citizens who are resident in an EU country are also exempt.

Find full details of the new system HERE.

Once EES is (finally) up and running it will be followed by another new system – ETIAS which will require tourists and short-stay visitors to the EU to pay €7 in advance and register for a visa waiver. Under 18s and over 70s are exempt from this payment – full details HERE.

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