LONDON – The European aviation sector has been thrown into chaos by multiple strike actions just as the Continent moves into the summer peak season.
Several major airports have already struggled with numerous flight cancellations, extended delays and long queues. Major cities in Germany, France, the Netherlands as well as the United Kingdom have been affected by the disruptions, which stand to put a strain on people’s holiday travel plans.
AviationSource writer Joris Wendt tabled his personal experiences with delays at Lisbon in a photographic review earlier this weekend, as various strike actions roll on.
Strikes in France stretch into third day
Several airports across France, including the major transit hubs of Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Paris Orly, have been severely affected by industrial unrest and resultant strike action by airport staff.
Driven by strikes arising from disputes over wages and worker conditions, the strikes have rolled into their third day. This comes in the lead up to school vacations and the rising peak period travel demand for the summer season.
Because striking workers included emergency services personnel at Charles-de-Gaulle, the French aviation authority General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) were forced to take the steps of further restricting flight movements. Runway closures were also instigated as a protective measure.
The added safety measures by the French authority resulted in further chaos with more flight cancellations.
The strike action commenced on Thursday and looks set to persist right across the weekend.
On Friday, striking aviation firefighters were joined in their strike by other Aéroports de Paris employees, demanding wage rises in keeping with the rising inflation rates.
Ryanair Spain and rising chaos
Adding to the general chaos and disruption, Spanish-based cabin crew for the operator Ryanair disclosed their intentions to strike for 12 days this month. Similarly, their proposed action arises from worker discontent with working conditions.
Social and economic factors
A number of factors have combined to create the present chaotic environment which is characterised by worker unrest.
The dynamics of the post-pandemic recovery phase meant that airlines and airport facilities scrambled to regain a steady footing after a long period which saw them cut staff numbers and close infrastructure like terminal facilities to weather the economic downturn.
Air operators worldwide have faced the prospect of cancelling scheduled flights to quell the surge of travel demand while they remain understaffed.
The world economic outlook adds a further layer of worker discontent. Inflation levels are reaching record highs, as the UK hit a record 9.1 per cent last month.
The rising cost of living is hurting householders and workers across the Continent. In many cases workers in the travel and aviation sectors are having to work extra hours in trying conditions.
Taken overall, the gradual recovery from the two-year pandemic hiatus, coupled with the ensuing economic crisis makes for a very difficult recipe at a time of high travel demand.
Industry indications suggest that the problems will not be resolved by summer.
All in all, this makes for a very difficult, and very likely a chaotic summer season for all concerned – airline operators, airport and handling staff, and of course the legion of air travellers brought out of hibernation after a long period of travel restrictions.