Latest: Europe's summer travel chaos

Latest: Europe's Summer Travel Chaos Latest: Europe's Summer Travel Chaos
What you need to know before you fly. Photo: Getty Images
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Thomson Reuters

Strikes and staff shortages are forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights and causing hours-long queues at major airports, dashing hopes of a sizzling first summer after Covid-19 lockdowns.

Here is a summary of some of the latest developments:

Labour unrest

After sweeping job cuts and pay cuts when Covid-19 brought travel to a grinding halt, staff across the industry from pilots to baggage handlers are asking for big pay increases and better working conditions.

- Charles de Gaulle, Paris

Striking Paris airport workers said on Saturday they would stage another walkout at the French capital's main international hub from July 8th-10th to press their demand for a net €300 increase per month on salaries.

Airport operator ADP had offered staff a four per cent pay rise if they agreed to end the strike on Friday, but workers rejected the offer, a union representative told Reuters.

- London Heathrow


British Airways staff at London's Heathrow airport voted on June 23rd to strike after the airline failed to roll back a 10 per cent pay cut imposed during the pandemic, with the strike likely to take place during the peak summer holiday period.

- Ryanair

Spain-based cabin crew at Ryanair plan to strike for 12 more days this month, the USO and SICTPLA unions said on Saturday. The Irish low-cost carrier said it expected "minimal" disruption for its flight schedules in July because of the strikes.

Cabin crew will strike on July 12th-15th, 18th-21st and 25th-28th across the 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair operates.

- EasyJet

Spain-based cabin crew at EasyJet plan to go on strike for nine days in July, demanding a 40 per cent increase in their basic salary which is much lower than in countries such as France and Germany, local union USO said.

- Lufthansa

A German union representing Lufthansa ground staff is demanding at least €350 per month more over 12 months to cushion the effects of soaring inflation

The airline's chief executive has apologised to employees and customers for the travel chaos, admitting the company had "made mistakes" when cutting costs to cope with pandemic-related losses.


The Scandinavian airline filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States to help cut debt, it said on Tuesday, warning strike action by pilots had deepened its financial crisis.


Wage talks between SAS and its pilots collapsed on Monday, triggering a strike that will paralyse large parts of the carrier's operations. Close to 1,000 pilots in Denmark, Sweden and Norway will join the strike, which will ground roughly half of the airline's flights and affect some 30,000 passengers a day.

Reduced summer schedules

Several airlines have slashed their summer capacity to cope with the staff shortages, including thousands of cancellations by Lufthansa and EasyJet.

On Tuesday, British Airways said it would reduce its April-October schedule by 11 per cent, having said in May the cuts would amount to 10 per cent. The Telegraph newspaper had on Monday reported the airline would cancel more than 650 flights, affecting up to 105,000 travellers. BA did not directly comment on the report.

Britain's transport minister last week said it was up to the airlines to avoid a repeat of recent chaotic scenes at airports, calling for them to run "realistic" summer schedules. .

Airports, including Gatwick and Schiphol, are also limiting the volume of passengers they will handle over the summer.

Hiring sprees and incentives

Airports and airlines are scrambling to hire more workers from pilots to security and border control staff and baggage handlers after many left during the Covid-19 crisis.

Industry executives say it is hard to recruit for often physically demanding, relatively low paid work at airports often located out of town. Training staff and getting them security clearance to work at airports also takes months.

- The Netherlands


Schiphol agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security staff €5.25 extra per hour during the summer.

One of Europe's busiest airports needs to hire 500 security staff. Before the pandemic, there were 68,000 workers in and around the airport, now there are 58,000.

- France

Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris need to fill 4,000 jobs mainly in security, maintenance and travel retail, according to airport operator Groupe ADP and the CDG Alliance.

More than 20,000 people were laid off at Charles de Gaulle during the pandemic, according to the CGT union.

Airport security company ICTS which operates at Charles de Gaulle is offering a one-off €180 bonus to those delaying their vacation until after September 15th and €150 for staff who sign up new recruits, according to a CGT union representative.

- Germany

Germany will fast-track work permits and visas for several thousand foreign airport workers, mainly from Turkey, to work with grounds crews, including in baggage handling in order to help to ease the travel chaos.

According to the ADV airport association, about one in five jobs in security, check-in and aircraft handling is unfilled at the country's airports.

- Ireland

Ireland agreed to put the army on standby to help with security at Dublin Airport should staffing be hit by a resurgence of Covid-19 during the rest of the summer travel period.

While Dublin Airport has cut security delays at departure gates, some arriving passengers are complaining of lost bags and posting pictures online of piled-up luggage.

- Portugal

The Portuguese government plans to more than double border control staff at the country's six airports by July 4th.

- Spain

In Spain, the police will hire 500 more staff taking the total to 1,700 deployed at the country's busiest airports, including Madrid and Barcelona.

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