Factbox-Europe travel disruption extends into fall

(Reuters) – Strikes and staff shortages have forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights to avoid hour-long queues at major airports in the first summer following widespread COVID lockdowns, the disturbances are expected to continue until the fall.

Here is a summary of some of the key developments:


After sweeping job and wage cuts when COVID-19 brought travel to a halt, staff across the industry, from pilots to baggage handlers, are demanding big pay rises and better working conditions.

**European flights were largely disrupted on September 16 as a strike by French air traffic controllers forced airlines to cancel half of those due to arrive or depart from Paris airports and others due to fly over France .

Ryanair said the travel plans of 80,000 passengers had been affected as it canceled 420 flights, mostly intended to fly over France.

**Members of Ryanair’s Spanish cabin crew union plan to strike from Monday to Thursday each week until January 7 to demand higher wages and better working conditions.

** Lufthansa and the VC pilots’ union reached an agreement in a pay dispute on September 6, averting a second strike after the first forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

**EasyJet pilots based in Spain flew from Barcelona, ​​Malaga and Palma bases in Mallorca for nine days in August.

Cabin crew in the country have suspended a three-day strike scheduled for the end of July after reaching an agreement with the carrier.

**SAS and Ryanair agreed terms with pilot unions in July, while British Airways and KLM signed agreements with ground staff.

** Norwegian Air agreed in June to a 3.7% salary increase for pilots, among other benefits.


Airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways, easyJet, KLM and Wizz Air have cut thousands of flights from their summer schedules in an attempt to reduce disruption, while major airports including London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol have extended the number of passengers until the fall.

** Norwegian airline Flyr said on October 4 it would cut spending, with furlough plans and potentially steps to raise funds. The budget carrier and main rival of Norwegian Air and SAS added that it will adjust the flight schedule during the winter season by putting unprofitable routes on hold and maintaining enough staff to operate five or six of its 12 planes during the winter.

**Schiphol said on September 29 that it would reduce daily passenger numbers by around a fifth until at least March 2023. The airport is struggling to find a way to solve a shortage of security personnel. Earlier in the month, Schiphol announced it would reduce daily passenger numbers by 18% until at least October 31.

** After previously reducing its summer schedule and halting ticket sales for short-haul flights from Heathrow until mid-August, British Airways announced on August 22 that it would be carrying out new cancellations until the end of October, after the airport extended its cap on passenger departures. It will also reduce its winter schedule by 8%, impacting around 10,000 flights.

** Meanwhile, London Gatwick Airport said it would not extend passenger number limits beyond August after beefing up security staff, while a board member from Lufthansa said the worst of the flight chaos was over for the airline.


Industry executives say it’s difficult to recruit for often physically demanding and relatively low-paying jobs at airports that are often out of town. Training new hires and getting them security cleared also takes months.

**Schiphol has agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, porters and security guards an additional 5.25 euros ($5.25) per hour during the summer. He had to hire 500 security guards after starting the season with about 10,000 fewer workers than before the pandemic.

** Airport security company ICTS, which operates at Paris Charles de Gaulle, has offered a one-off bonus of 180 euros to those who delay their holidays after September 15 and 150 euros to staff who recruit new recruits, said a CGT union representative.

**Only around 150 Turkish airport workers have been hired by German airports, far fewer than initially expected. They will help with baggage handling under temporary contracts that will run until early November.

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(Reporting by Klaus Lauer in Berlin, Juliette Portala and Caroline Paillez in Paris, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Paul Sandle in London and Reuters offices; Compiled by Boleslaw Lasocki, Antonis Triantafyllou, Tiago Brandao and Marie Mannes in Gdansk; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Milla Nissi and Mark Potter)