Ground control: staff at Spanish airports, including Barcelona, are planning to walk out on Easter Sunday
Ground control: staff at Spanish airports, including Barcelona, are planning to walk out on Easter Sunday

Easter strikes in Spain and Italy to spark travel chaos

Industrial action is jeopardising some trips over the Easter holidays, with disruption affecting travellers in Scotland.

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 09 April 2019 22:12
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Travellers heading for parts of Continental Europe in April face uncertainty over more than than Brexit: the effects of industrial action.

Spain is expecting the worst strike-related disruption.

Security staff at Madrid airport belonging to the ATES union are threatening an indefinite strike starting on Friday 12 April in a dispute over pay and rosters.

Spanish airports are likely to be disrupted by one-day walk-outs called by ground staff belonging to the Union Sindical Obrera and Union General de Trabajadores on Easter Sunday and 24 April.

On Spain’s railways, workers at Adif (the infrastructure operator, equivalent to Network Rail) are planning to strike on Wednesday 17 April.

A planned strike on 23 April by train drivers working for Renfe, the main Spanish train operators, may well lead to more cancellations.

Talks at the Spanish conciliation service, SIMA, failed to reach an agreement.

On 29 April, a strike is planned on the Barcelona Metro. It is likely to prove more disruptive for commuters than visitors.

While the city’s airport is on the Metro system, bus and train links into Barcelona are much faster.

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In Italy, Alitalia staff will strike for 24 hours on Saturday 13 April. On the same day, some workers at the two main Milan airports, Linate and Malpensa, will stop work.

Later in the year, Linate airport, which is close to the centre of Milan, is set to close from 27 July to 27 October 2019 for improvement work.

The city is quiet in August, but in September the closure will place a lot of pressure on the other main airport, Malpensa, and nearby Bergamo.

During the three months, Linate would normally handle around 2.3m passengers.

A wave of industrial action has already begun in Scotland, involving air-traffic controllers who belong to the Prospect union. They are in dispute with Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) over pay.

The air-traffic controllers have begun a work-to-rule and an overtime ban. So far this week a dozen Loganair flights have been cancelled.

A planned strike on Friday 26 April, which would have closed six Scottish airports, has been called off after talks at Acas. In a joint statement, the parties said: “Prospect has agreed to suspend the strike action on the 26 April to allow discussions to continue.

“Action short of a strike will continue.”

In the early evening of Friday 5 April, one Loganair flight took off from Kirkwall airport without any air traffic control. The airline says that safe alternative procedures were followed.

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