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Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

Passengers with Europe's low-cost airlines are facing more strikes this summer as staff announced new walkouts on Tuesday.

Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called
Staff at budget airlines in Europe such as Ryanair and easyJet have called for more summer strikes. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Trade unions representing Ryanair cabin crew in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have called for strikes this coming weekend, while easyJet’s operations in Spain face a nine-day strike next month.

Damien Mourgues, a representative of the SNPNC trade union at Ryanair in France, said the airline doesn’t respect rest time laws and is calling for a raise for cabin crew still paid at the minimum wage.

Cabin crew will go on strike on Saturday and Sunday.

READ MORE: What’s the latest on the Ryanair strike in Spain?

A strike on the weekend of June 12th and 13th already prompted the cancellation of about 40 Ryanair flights in France, or about a quarter of the total.

Ryanair’s low-cost rival easyJet also faces nine days of strikes on different days in July at the Barcelona, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca airports. 

The provisional strike dates for easyJet are the weekends of July 1st-3rd, July 15th-17th, and July 29th-31st, as announced by the Spanish union USO. Approximately 450 staff members are involved.

READ MORE: EasyJet adds to Spain’s summer travel woes with 9-day strike

The union said Tuesday that Spanish easyJet cabin crew, with a base pay of 950 euros per month, have the lowest wages of the airline’s European bases.

The strikes come as air travel has rebounded since Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

But many airlines, which laid off staff during the pandemic, are having trouble rehiring enough workers and have been forced to cancel flights, including easyJet, which has been particularly hard hit by employee shortages.

On Monday, the European Transport Workers’ Federation called “on passengers not to blame the workers for the disasters in the airports, the cancelled flights, the long queues and longer time for check-ins, and lost luggage or delays caused by decades of corporate greed and a removal of decent jobs in the sector.”

READ ALSO: Strikes and queues: How airline passengers in Europe face summer travel chaos

The Federation said it expects “the chaos the aviation sector is currently facing will only grow over the summer as workers are pushed to the brink.”

Aviation sector ‘chaos’

In Spain, trade unions have urged Ryanair cabin crews to strike from June 24th to July 2nd to secure their “fundamental labour rights” and “decent workconditions for all staff”.

Ryanair staff in Portugal plan to go on strike from Friday to Sunday to protest work conditions, as are employees in Belgium.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has been dismissive of the strikes.

“We operate two and half thousand flights every day,” he said earlier this month in Belgium.

“Most of those flights will continue to operate even if there is a strike in Spain by some Mickey Mouse union or if the Belgian cabin crew unions want to go on strike over here,” he added in a media conference.

In Italy, a 24-hour strike is set to hit Ryanair operations on Saturday with pilots and cabin crew calling for the airline to respect the minimum wages set for the sector under a national agreement. 

Aircraft technician strike grounds flights from Norway 

More than 50 departures out of Norway’s airports have been cancelled so far due to an aircraft technician strike.

Widerøe has cancelled 38 flights so far, while Norwegian Air Shuttle cancelled five departures on Tuesday morning and announced a further 17 trips wouldn’t go ahead on Wednesday.

The Norwegian Air Traffic Technician Organisation (NFO) currently has 106 workers out on strike. The organisation could take out 39 more staff on Friday if an agreement on pay isn’t reached.

Travellers are advised to contact the airline they are meant to be flying with directly if their flight is delayed or cancelled. You can check scheduled departures out of Norwegian airports here

Widerøe has urged travellers not to contact them unless their flight has been cancelled, disrupted, or they are unhappy with the alternative travel arrangements that have been offered to them.

“If you have not heard anything from us, then you can be sure that your trip is still planned and carried out and behave in the usual way when you go out and travel,” a press officer for the airline told public broadcaster NRK.

Norwegian said it was working to rebook customers whose flights had been cancelled. 

“Almost everyone has been offered to rebook to an alternative route, and then there is one flight where we are still working to solve it,” Esben Tuman, communications director for the airline, told newswire NTB.

READ MORE: Flights in Norway cancelled due to technician strike

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TRAVEL NEWS

EasyJet pilots strike in Spain

EasyJet's Spanish pilots walked out on Friday, calling for the reinstatement of conditions they enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks after a strike by the low-cost carrier's cabin crew had resulted in a deal.

EasyJet pilots strike in Spain

Easyjet’s Spanish pilots walked out on Friday, calling for the reinstatement of conditions they enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks after a strike by the low-cost carrier’s cabin crew had resulted in a deal.

Coming at the height of the summer tourist season, the new Easyjet stoppages will add to the problems facing the sector.

Cabin crew at budget rival Ryanair have been staging 24-hour walkouts since June, which are likely to continue until January 2023, unions said.

The Easyjet pilots, for their part, are staging a first three-day strike from Friday at the airports of Barcelona, Malaga and the Mediterranean islands of Palma de Majorca and Minorca, the SEPLA union said.

Two more three-day walkouts are planned later in August.

“This is the only possible alternative for the pilots’ representatives, after more than six months of negotiations, at which the company has rejected all proposals made,” the union said.

The airline cancelled eight flights on Friday, most of them from Barcelona, Spain’s second-busiest airport.

“During the worst months of the pandemic, we agreed to lower our salaries to guarantee not only jobs, but the survival of the company itself in Spain,” the union said.

Now, however, the company “refuses to recover the working conditions. “We are not asking for anything that we did not have two years ago,” said a union spokesman.

In late July, EasyJet said it took a sizeable financial hit from sector-wide disruptions, notably staff shortages, but still slashed quarterly losses as demand recovered.

Just days later, EasyJet cabin crews ended their strike, after reaching a deal with management to raise wages by 22 percent over three years.

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