General strike hits Portugal today

The General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP) expects massive support from public sector, transport and service sector unions today (Wednesday, November 24) as public transport paralysis looks set to affect around 1.5 million commuters in Greater Lisbon alone.

These estimated figures were calculated on the numbers of commuter passengers transported daily by Carris buses (600,000), Metropolitano de Lisboa (500,000), and river ferry services Transtejo and Soflusa (94,000).

To this estimate some 250,000 rail commuters using CP (Combios de Portugal) services into Lisbon can be added.  

The Lisbon Metro (Metropolitano de Lisboa) announced on Tuesday that its last services in the capital would run until 11.30pm from which time the entire network would shut down for 24 hours.

Public bus company Carris and rail company CP (Combios de Portugal) said it would only operate a skeleton service throughout the strike representing 15 to 20 per cent of services which has already been contested by the unions as illegal.

The CGTP warned that all public transport services and river passenger ferries would effectively be suspended today (on Wednesday) affecting journeys to Lisbon from Almada, Seixal, Barreiro, Montijo, Cacilhas and Trafaria.

Those travelling to and from Lisbon, Porto and Faro and other intercity destinations on Alfa Pendular train services were warned that they may not be able to purchase return tickets on Tuesday.

Air traffic too will be brought to a standstill at many airports up and down the country in Lisbon, Faro, Porto and Funchal.

Support for the General Strike by air traffic controllers is likely to restrict any contingency plan from both national and international airline companies even though Portuguese national airspace will remain open to serve a minimum regional air traffic service to Madeira and the Azores.

In an official statement airports authority ANA said on Tuesday that over 550 flights had been cancelled – 374 from Lisbon airport, 141 from Porto and 38 from Faro.  

Low cost airline Ryanair cancelled 30 flights to and from Portugal yesterday (Tuesday) and around 50 flights cancelled for today.

British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa have cancelled or expect to cancel more than 300 flights to and from Portugal today, with Lufthansa cancelling 20 flights, British Airways cancelling all flights (there are no BA flights to and from Faro on Wednesdays).

Low cost airline EasyJet, one of the airlines with the largest market share in Portugal, informed passengers to expect considerable disruptions to its service today and check on its website for regular updates.