Many of us that have recently taken a flight by airplane in Europe might have experienced some of the following: long queues, lost luggages or missed flights. How is it possible that this crisis seemed to come out of nowhere? Which industries are most impacted, and most important: when will things improve?
In Europe, the travel season is being affected by several strikes from ground personnel. On top of that, there is of course the limited air travel due to Covid, and riskier working conditions for those in aviation.
Why are ground personnel striking exactly now? Has work become so much more unbearable compared to, say, last summer? One of the reasons given is the low pay for the intense and dangerous work many have to do under time pressure. Due to Covid, many airline companies laid off large amounts of workers, or saw themselves forced to implement 0 hour contracts, putting ground personnel in a more precarious position.
Signs of improvements?
Chaos is the only thing that seems to be increasing for the coming time. Unions in aviation and transport feel like this is their window of opportunity to break with a tradition of bad working conditions, low pay and labor legislations that are systematically not honored.
This is of course not what airline companies were hoping to deal with. Airline companies and investors saw this time as their respective window of opportunity to make up for unrealised profits they had to endure during Covid lockdowns.
Cabin crew of Ryanair is striking in Spain, Portugal and Belgium. They started on a three day strike in those countries. After a day, they were joined by cabin crew in both France and Italy. Not only Ryanair, but also budget airliner EasyJet is facing strikes of 9 days by cabin crew.
French airport operator Aeroports De Paris, which operates Charles de Gaulle and Orly, is hastily holding talks in order to prevent another strike from unions in their airport. And finally, also in Britain strikes are taking place. British Airways traffic staff decided to go on strike, in tandem with the rail worker’s union. The Transport Staff Association, the rail workers’ union, has warned that Britain faces a long summer of discontent if no agreement is reached.
Ground workers in Germany have forced Lufthansa to cancel hundreds of flights. This was done at its international centers Frankfurt and Munich. Due to these cancellations, not only civilian air travel is affected, but also Air cargo should be watchful of delays in their sector.
This particular strike puts even more pressure on airliners and airports that have tried to juggle an understaffed aviation crew on the ground, and a sudden influx of travelers that have been eager to book a flight across Europe after a year of lockdowns.
In a notification to its customers, Lufthansa Cargo announced that its freight planes are expected to operate as scheduled for now. But given the fact that so many strikes have erupted to demand better pay and working conditions, anyone involved in this sector would benefit from caution for the coming time.