Which strikes could affect holidaymakers this summer?

by Lorraine Williamson
holidaymakers this summer face cancellations
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MADRID – Relaxing planning your holiday is no longer an option these days. A wave of impending strikes in the airline sector, staff shortages, and congested roads are all standing in the way of looking forward to your holiday. So, what can holidaymakers expect this summer?

With understaffing at critical locations, such as security and passport controls, and overwhelming demand, airlines are unable to maintain sufficient capacity. Furthermore, many companies are no longer able to find employees. The former aviation workers, especially ground staff, who were laid off during the pandemic, have found better work elsewhere. 

See also: Holiday in Spain more expensive than ever 

In addition, the battle for better working conditions for those who do work is increasing the pressure in the European aviation sector even further. With flights being cancelled due to the staff shortage on one hand and a wave of strikes, on the other, it promises to be an overheated holiday season. 

Wave of strikes 

During the pandemic, many companies in the sector have increased the workload of their still-active workforce while cutting wages. Consequently, that staff is now demanding improvements. 

National strike Belgium, no flights from Zaventem 

Due to the national strike on Monday 20 June, Brussels Airport has cancelled all departing passenger flights. Unions in Belgium demand higher wages to ease the purchasing power pain. According to Brussels Airport, the safety of passengers and staff cannot be guaranteed due to actions taken by security officers. Air traffic at Zaventem airport will resume on Tuesday. Several flights have been moved to smaller airports in Antwerp, Ostend, or Liège. 

Ryanair cabin crew strike 

Ryanair cabin crew are maintaining the six strike days for the next 24, 25, 26, and 30 June and 1 and 2 July. The unions failed to reach an agreement with the Interconfederal Service for Mediation and Arbitration (SIMA). The strike is taking place at the Irish airline’s ten bases in Spain;

  • Madrid
  • Malaga
  • Seville
  • Alicante
  • Valencia
  • Barcelona
  • ​​Girona
  • Santiago de Compostela
  • Ibiza
  • Palma de Mallorca

In addition, they coordinate actions with other trade unions at Ryanair in Belgium, France, Italy, and Portugal. 

Air France and Transavia 

Alter, the Air France pilots’ union and its low-cost subsidiary Transavia, has announced a strike for Saturday, June 25 in protest against a staff shortage that is resulting in “long-term fatigue and safety risks” among those who do work. 

See also: Chaos also threatens at Spanish airports 

Strike SAS pilots and ground personnel on Charles de Gaulle 

In Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, about 1,000 SAS pilots are considering going on strike from the end of June. The strike coincides with a strike by workers at the French airport Charles de Gaulle. As a result, the capacity at the main French airport is reduced by a quarter. In addition, it is one of the five main European hubs. 

Brussels Airlines pilots and cabin crew strike 

Brussels Airlines pilots and cabin crew announced a three-day strike on June 23, 24, and 25. It coincides exactly with the start of the summer holidays. 

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British Airways 

In the case of British Airways, thousands of experienced workers have lost their jobs without being replaced, according to the union. That means there is a shortage of check-in staff, loaders, baggage handlers, and cabin crew. The cabin crew who do work are called on by the union Unite to go on strike. Ryanair cabin crew in the UK may also go on strike. 

Lower capacity 

Airports across Europe face labor and logistics issues. The number of passengers has increased significantly since the end of the pandemic, but most companies in the airline industry are not prepared for this. 

Now that it is too late to attract enough staff, Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings intend to cancel more than 1,000 flights in July. That number is equivalent to 5% of their planned weekend capacity. 

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport 

In recent days, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was forced to suspend the sale of flights at its hub due to the chaos. Transavia, the low-cost subsidiary of the Air France-KLM group, has subsequently announced that it will reduce its summer program by about 500 flights due to the staff shortage. 

Easyjet 

EasyJet has withdrawn its entire fleet from its base at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) announcing that it will operate approximately 12 days a week. Regular flights, 1,000 movements in total, will be cancelled until August 31. 

Solutions? 

In Spain, the problem of long queues at the main airports with the most international traffic is concentrated at passport controls due to an insufficient number of police officers. Therefore, the Interior Ministry has currently deployed 500 additional police officers, starting with Madrid. 

Dublin and Heathrow airports are hiring inspectors. Meanwhile Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which has already raised wages for baggage staff, finally made the decision this Friday to limit the number of passengers. They will only handle 67,500 daily departures in July and 72,500 in August. This means that Schiphol will cancel hundreds of flights. 

“Holistic reforms needed” 

The International Aviation Association (IATA) has urged the implementation of “holistic reforms” to solve the personnel crisis of the ground handling services. Flight cancellations and delays, such as those that have already taken place in several countries in recent weeks, are endangering the summer season. 

That’s why IATA, which represents 290 airlines that account for 83% of global air traffic, is urging the ground handling industry to adopt a “robust talent acquisition strategy.” The processes for recruiting new employees must be simplified and the work must be made more attractive to potential employees, including through higher wages. 

When will it be clear whether my flight has been cancelled? 

Ultimately, the airline or travel company where you booked your flight will inform you about that flight. However, it is not yet clear when this will happen. Furthermore, it is also unclear whether many existing tickets will be cancelled. The limits are mainly set on the number of tickets that are still sold. 

What if my flight is cancelled? 

If you are one of the unlucky ones whose ticket is cancelled, you can be offered a replacement flight, or get your money back from your airline or package tour provider. You can also look for a new flight yourself. However, that will not be easy because many people and airlines want to rebook flights. 

Also, keep checking the website of your flight’s airline regularly for the latest news. 

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