Explained: Europe’s strike-related travel disruptions

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European airports are in the midst of another busy summer as passenger num-bers globally recover to pre-pandemic levels, while airline and airport staff continue wage talks.

The travel industry is on high alert for disruption after Europe’s peak season last year was hit by cancellations, causing chaos at airports. This summer, air traffic control issues are likely to be the weak spot, according to warnings from Eurocontrol, which manages European airspace.

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Here is a summary of recent developments:


One of the Eurocontrol trade unions has announced a six-month period when in-dustrial action could take place in the Network Manager Operations Centre, which oversees traffic across the European airspace, the pan-European organization said on July 7.

The union has not set specific dates for a strike.


Ryanair pilots in Belgium will strike on July 15-16 in demand of higher wages and better working conditions, their union said on July 7. The strike could affect around 140 flights from Charleroi airport, but it is yet unclear how many pilots will join and how many flights will need to be cancelled.


EasyJet has axed 2 percent of its summer flight schedule, affecting holiday plans of 180,000 customers. The British airline said on July 10 it had plenty of crew and pilots but worries over air traffic control challenges across Europe meant it had cancelled 1,700 flights, mostly from London’s Gatwick airport, for the rest of July and August.

At Birmingham Airport, around 100 security officers and terminal technicians will begin continuous strike action from July 18. The strikes will severely impact the airport’s security and terminal maintenance, leading to flight delays, the Unite union said.


Repeated air traffic control (ATC) strikes in France, related to President Emman-uel Macron’s plan to raise pension age, have led to delays and limited flights across the country, causing more air space congestion in Europe.

Ryanair, which has asked the European Commission to protect overflights from strike disruption, cancelled more than 900 flights in June mainly due to French ATC strikes.


Multiple unions have called a nationwide airport staff strike on July 15 related to talks for a new collective contract. Air traffic controllers, baggage handlers and check-in personnel along with Italian pilots of Vueling will walk out between 10 a.m and 6 p.m. local time. Malta Air pilots and flight attendants will join them from noon for four hours.

Talking to Italian media, Transport Minister Matteo Salvini said the companies and workers would meet the following week to continue negotiations.

Air traffic control company ENAV has confirmed there will be no strikes in the Ital-ian air transport sector between July 27 and September 5 due to a summer ex-emption provided for in the industry regulations.


Easyjet cancelled 350 flights arriving to or departing from Portugal ahead of a cabin staff strike on July 21-25, the SNPVAC union of civil aviation flight person-nel said. It will be the union’s third strike since the beginning of the year.


Pilots at Iberia Regional Air Nostrum, who had been striking every Monday and Friday since February 27, went on a daily indefinite strike from June 6 amid a pay dispute. As of July 14, Iberia said on its website some flight routes could be affected.

Read more:

Around 1,000 staff at six UK airports walk out over pay dispute

British Airways cancels 1,700 flights as pilots strike

Train strikes threaten to bring Britain to a halt

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