Travel: Summer holidays threatened by airline strikes across Europe

airport staff

Flight crews across Europe want wage increases in line with inflation

Holidays across Europe could be thrown into chaos this summer due to mass strikes and staff shortages across the continent.

British holidaymakers have endured a nightmare of delays, cancellations and missing bags at Britain’s busiest airports in recent weeks.

More trouble is expected after British Airways workers at Heathrow voted to strike over pay disputes.

Around 700 workers will leave between July and September after the airline failed to restore a 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic.

However, not only Great Britain is confronted with these problems. Workers in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia have voted or are discussing strikes over wages and working conditions.

Striking trade unionists are demonstrating outside a terminal at Roissy Airport, north of Paris, on Friday 1 July 2022. Flights from Paris' Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport and other French airports faced disruptions on Friday as airport workers went on strike and protested to demand pay rises to keep up with inflation. It's the latest problem to hit global airports this summer as travel rebounds after two years of virus restrictions. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Striking unionists demonstrate outside Roissy Airport north of Paris (Image: AP)

Passengers wait to be checked in at a Charles de Gaulle airport terminal, Friday July 1, 2022 at Roissy airport, north of Paris. Flights from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and other French airports faced disruptions on Friday as airport workers went on strike and protested to demand pay rises to keep up with inflation. It's the latest problem to hit global airports this summer as travel rebounds after two years of virus restrictions. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Passengers wait to check in at a Charles de Gaulle terminal amid strikes (Image: AP)

Staff shortages have also caused delays and baggage problems in other popular destinations such as Bucharest and Portugal.

Thousands of UK passengers are expected to be affected by the disruption, which is hitting major airlines like easyJet and Ryanair.

Easyjet workers in Spain will go on strike in three phases in July – July 1-3, 15-17 and 29-31.

The three 72-hour sorties will involve hundreds of crew members at bases in Barcelona, ​​Malaga and Palma.

Workers affiliated with Spain’s USO union are demanding a 40 percent increase in base wages for low-paid cabin crew.

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FILE PHOTO: Passengers queue in the departures terminal of Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain on June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Huge queues at Heathrow due to staff shortages (Image: Reuters)

Meanwhile, a three-day strike by Ryanair workers over pay in Spain began Thursday and will last until July 2.

The strike affects flights at 10 bases across the country – Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Seville, Palma, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza.

However, Ryanair said it does not expect widespread disruption and claimed most crew members would not support the proposed action.

Elsewhere, Charles de Gaulle (CDG) flights at Paris and other French airports were disrupted on Friday as workers held a strike to demand pay rises to keep up with inflation.

The French civil aviation authority said 17% of scheduled flights were canceled today, with more expected tomorrow.

A few hundred workers in union vests blocked a major CDG-bound road today, forcing passengers to lug their bags on foot via a ring road to their terminals.

It comes after a staff strike at France’s air traffic control center in Marseille led to mass cancellations of flights from Spain, Italy, the UK and other destinations that would normally fly through French airspace.

Italian unions have threatened more strikes this summer after more than 4,000 passengers were affected by industrial action last month.

Italian pilots and flight attendants from Ryanair, Malta Air, CrewLink, easyJet and Volota were involved in the strikes.

UIL Trasporti warned: “This will only be the first in a series of protest actions that will heat up the summer.”

Other popular destinations have faced similar problems to the UK due to staff shortages.

In Portugal, queues at Lisbon and Faro airports are said to have lasted three hours, while in Romania travelers at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport have complained of four-hour flight delays and lost luggage, Mailonline reports.

UK airports are grappling with long queues and cancellations ahead of the bank holiday weekend

Travelers wait in a long line to go through security at Heathrow (Picture: Getty)

In Germany, popular airliner Lufthansa has already had to cancel 3,000 flights this summer due to staff shortages due to the pandemic.

The government is reportedly planning to conscript 2,000 foreign workers from Turkey to alleviate the problem.

And chaos could soon spread to Norway, Denmark and Sweden when workers at Scandinavian airline SAS vote this week on whether to go on strike.

In the UK, Transport Secretary Grants Shapps has unveiled a 22-point plan which he says will prevent a repeat of the chaos at airports over the Easter and Jubilee holidays.

The list of measures – some of which have already been announced – includes urging airlines to ensure their flight schedules are deliverable.

To encourage them not to promise more flights than they can handle, an amnesty will allow them to keep valuable slots that they would normally lose if they didn’t use them a certain number of times in the season.

A new passenger charter will be released in the coming weeks, offering passengers a “one-stop guide” telling them about their rights and what to expect when flying from airports and airlines.

While some welcome the government’s plan, critics say it came far too late.

On the same day Shapps announced the measures, Heathrow – Britain’s largest airport – grounded 30 flights at the last minute.

Rocio Concha, which ones? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “Another day of chaos at Britain’s largest airport suggests that government working groups and written warnings to airlines and airports are not yet having the desired effect – and many passengers will be understandably concerned that this plan might not fail are enough to prevent a summer of travel disruption.

“Passengers have been treated appallingly in recent months. With the holiday plans of millions of people at stake, the Government and Aviation Authority must show they can get this situation under control and ensure airports and airlines live up to their legal obligations to the traveling public in the busy weeks ahead.

“The shameful scenes at UK airports show why passenger rights need to be strengthened and enforced through a strong regulatory and compensation regime. The government should give the CAA powers to directly fine airlines for breaking the law and scrap plans to cut passenger compensation for delayed and canceled domestic flights.

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Justin Scacco

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