Friday 1 July 2022 02:21 PM Warnings that holidays EVERYWHERE in Europe will be thrown into chaos trends now
British holidaymakers are facing a summer of travel chaos in Europe as countries across the Continent grapple with a perfect storm of airport mayhem, mass strikes over wage-busting inflation, and crippling post-Covid staffing shortages.
Flyers grappling with cancellations and lost luggage at Britain's biggest airports are bracing themselves for strikes among British Airways staff at London Heathrow in the next two months.
But disruption across mainland Europe - from France, Spain and Italy to Germany, Romania and Ireland - now threatens to upend school holiday getaways as workers prepare to unleash mass industrial action in protest over rampant global inflation caused by Putin's brutal war in Ukraine and major staffing shortages caused by pandemic-era mass layoffs.
Here is a summary of some of the developments:HEATHROW
British Airways staff at London's Heathrow airport have voted to strike after the airline failed to roll back a 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic, with the strike likely to take place during the peak summer holiday period over the next two months.CHARLES DE GAULLE, PARIS
Workers at France's main airport went on strike on June 9 to demand a 300 euro ($313) per month increase and better working conditions, leading to the cancellation of 25% of flights. Further action is planned for July 2.SPAIN
Strikes by Ryanair cabin crew unions in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France and Italy affected less than 2% of the 9,000 flights scheduled between Friday and Sunday, the Irish low-cost carrier said. Crews in Spain are set to strike again on June 30 and July 1-2.
Spain-based cabin crew at easyJet plan to go on strike for nine days in July, demanding a 40% increase in their basic salary which is much lower than in countries such as France and Germany, local union USO said.GERMANY
A German union representing Lufthansa ground staff is demanding at least 350 euros per month more over 12 months to cushion the effects of soaring inflation, with first round of negotiations set to take place June 30.SCANDINAVIA
Scandinavian airline SAS AB and its pilots agreed to extend by three days a deadline for wage talks, postponing the risk of a strike. Flights continued as normal on Wednesday, but up to 1,000 pilots in Denmark, Sweden and Norway - around 80% of those flying for SAS - plan to go on strike unless a deal is found before July 2.
Staff at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris, France's biggest airport, and Orly are plotting strike action this weekend in a dispute over pay and working conditions. France's civil aviation authority said 17% of scheduled flights out of CDG and Orly are cancelled between 7am and 2pm today, with more expected tomorrow. When CGD staff walked out on June 9, a staggering 25% of flights were scrapped.
And this week, a staff walkout at the French Air Traffic Control centre in Marseille this week brought mass flight disruption for UK holidaymakers travelling to popular summer destinations including Italy and Spain.
In Spain, Ryanair staff are going on strike this week at the airline's bases, including Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Alicante, Sevilla, Palma, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza.
Meanwhile, hundreds of EasyJet workers will conduct mass walkouts in Barcelona, Malaga and Palma as they demand a 40% increase in their basic salary. They have also pencilled in July 15-17 and July 29-31 as dates for further strikes if talks collapse. The Spanish government is planning to boost staffing numbers by bringing in police.
Italian trade unions have been murmuring about further strikes this summer as they demand higher pay and 'better' working conditions. Speaking after more than 4,000 flights were cancelled during strikes earlier this month, the UIL Trasporti warned: 'This will be only the first of a series of protest actions that will make the summer hot'.
Portugal has fared little better, with passengers experiencing massive queues at Lisbon and Faro in the country's southern Algarve region that have stretched as long as three hours. A furious blame game has broken out between Portuguese border chiefs, who have warned that the queues are unlikely to ease this summer despite plans to double the number of staff checking passports, and airport management company ANA over depleted staffing numbers.
Similarly in Romania, travellers at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport have complained of four-hour flight delays and lost baggage due to depleted staff numbers. Industry boss George Dorobantu told local media: 'Recruitment does not go so fast, because there are some standard processes that any new employee has to go through, to go through some security processes, which can take from 30 to 60 days, depending on the chosen position.'
In Germany, trade union Verdi called on technical staff at Hamburg airport to go on strike today, just as school holidays in the region kick off. The airport's chief executive said he expected little negative impact from the action.
And popular German airliner Lufthansa has already been forced to slash 3,000 flights this summer due to staffing shortages caused by that country's draconian shutdown measures, amid fears that even more could be cancelled. Officials in Berlin are planning to hire thousands of foreign workers, including around 2,000 from Turkey, in a bid to ease the crisis, according to reports.
Closer to home, disruption at Dublin Airport has seen travellers miss their flights and lose their luggage. The Irish government is set to decide on Tuesday whether to put the Army on standby for six weeks, from next week until mid-August.
Polish authorities managed to avert mass strikes by reaching an agreement with air traffic controllers. Anita Oleksiak, the head of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) said, confirmed the news in a press conference this week, but did not give details of the agreement.
And the chaos could soon spread to Norway, Denmark and Sweden as staff at Scandinavian airline SAS vote this week on whether to go on strike - a move threatening to unleash mayhem on Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm international airports.
In Britain, Boris Johnson's Government was accused of acting too late after it set out a 22-point plan to tackle summer flight disruption as Heathrow Airport descended into 'total chaos'.
British holidaymakers are facing a summer of travel chaos across Europe, as airport staff go on strike in protest over rampant global inflation caused by Putin's war in Ukraine and staffing shortages caused by pandemic-era mass layoffs
Unionists strikers demonstrate outside a terminal Friday today at Roissy airport, north of Paris
Passengers wait to check in in a terminal of Charles de Gaulle airport today
Flights from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and other French airports faced disruption on Friday as airport workers went on strike to demand salary rises to keep up with inflation and a recruitment drive to deal with resurgent travel demand.
The action is the latest trouble to hit global airports this summer, as travel surges after two years of coronavirus restrictions.
French airports have been largely spared the chaos seen recently in London, Amsterdam and some other European and US cities.
But on Friday, striking workers sought to call attention to the pain of inflation with a walkout on the first big day of France's domestic summer travel season.
France's civil aviation authority said 17% of scheduled flights out of Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris were cancelled between 7am and 2pm Friday, primarily short-haul routes.
A few hundred workers wearing union vests blocked a key road approaching Charles de Gaulle, forcing passengers to drag their suitcases by foot along a bypass to reach their terminals. A protest was also held at Orly.
Once inside, passengers faced crowds and delays at check-in, passport control and security stations.
In addition to salary rises, union activists called for an emergency recruitment plan to get airport staffing back up to pre-pandemic levels.
Airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the Covid-19 crisis are struggling to keep up as travel demand returns after two years of virus restrictions.
'Airport activity has reached 95% of its pre-Covid level, except that now we have 20,000 employees less at the Roissy (Charles de Gaulle) airport, so working conditions deteriorated