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Italy transportation strikes could affect military travelers

Soldiers and their families who are leaving the Army's garrison in Vicenza, Italy, load their luggage onto the shuttle bus to Marco Polo International Airport on July 7, 2019. A nationwide airport workers' strike is expected to cause flight cancellations on Friday.

JAMES BROOKS/U.S. ARMY

By SCOTT WYLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 24, 2019

NAPLES, Italy — Nationwide transport strikes will disrupt Italy’s bus, subway and rail services on Wednesday and airline flights on Friday, causing potential difficulties for U.S. military personnel.

An eight-hour rail stoppage has halted passenger trains until at least 5 p.m. Wednesday, while a separate 24-hour strike hit taxi services and ferries, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Public buses also will be idled during a four-hour strike that will hit cities at different times, it said.

Meanwhile, unions plan to strike for up to 24 hours at Italy’s airports on Friday. Pilots, flight attendants and baggage handlers will be taking part.

Because the strike involves airport employees and not a specific carrier, there is no way to foresee which flights will be cancelled and adjust reservations to avoid them, said a customer service representative for Sato Travel, which books flights for military personnel.

If possible, servicemembers should change a Friday flight to Sunday because Saturday is likely to be backed up from all the passengers who were unable to fly on Friday, the representative said.

Postponing a flight can be troublesome for servicemembers who are expected to show up on a particular day for an assignment, but in this case a tardy arrival might be unavoidable, she said.

Travelers are entitled to a refund or compensation when a strike causes a flight to be canceled to and from most European countries, according to European Union regulations.

Authorities have appealed to the unions to limit the strikes at airports to four hours, saying the country’s transportation system is still recovering from the problems caused by a railway fire near Florence on Monday. The suspected arson caused four-hour delays in trains running through Rome.

Union leaders, who timed the strikes during the busy travel season for maximum impact, have not yet announced how long the airport worker strike will last.

wyland.scott@stripes.com
Twitter: @wylandstripes

 

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