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Europe's travel disruption set to continue as summer ends

08/26/2022 | 10:27am EST
People wait in lines at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam

(Reuters) - Strikes and staff shortages have forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights to avoid hours-long queues at major airports, dashing hopes for a sizzling first summer following widespread COVID lockdowns with disruption set to continue into the autumn.

Here is a summary of some of the key developments:

LABOUR UNREST

After sweeping job 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.

** Norwegian Air in June agreed a 3.7% pay rise for pilots among other benefits..

** SAS and Ryanair in July agreed terms with some unions representing their pilots, while British Airways and KLM signed wage deals with ground staffers, as strikes affected hundreds of thousands of travellers in the key holiday period.

** Portuguese airports

Employees of Portugal's airport handling company Portway began a three-day strike on Friday at its main airports in Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Funchal, forcing the cancellation of about 90 flights.

** Lufthansa

Pilots at the German flagship carrier voted on July 31 in favour of industrial action. Their union VC is demanding a 5.5% pay rise this year for its pilots and automatic inflation compensation thereafter. On Thursday VC said pilots had rejected a wage offer and could go on strike at anytime.

** Ryanair

Ryanair's Spanish cabin crew union members plan to strike from Monday to Thursday every week until Jan. 7 to press demands for higher pay and better working conditions.

Ryanair workers also caused disruption at many Spanish airports by walking out for several days in July, mainly at weekends.

** Easyjet

Easyjet's pilots in Spain said they would strike for nine days in August from bases in Barcelona, Malaga and Palma in Mallorca.

However, cabin crew in the country suspended a strike planned for July 29-31 after reaching a deal with the company. The workers went on strike previously on July 1-3 and 15-17, causing some flight cancellations and delays.

** IAG

IAG low-cost airline Iberia Express has cancelled 92 flights after cabin crew union USO announced a 10-day strike starting Aug 28.

SCHEDULE CUTS

Airlines including Lufthansa, British Airways, easyJet, KLM and Wizz Air cut thousands of flights from their summer schedules to try and ease disruption, while major airports including London's Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schiphol have extended caps on passenger numbers into autumn.

** Having previously cut its summer schedule and halted ticket sales for short-haul flights departing Heathrow until mid-August, British Airways said this week it would make further cancellations up to 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.

** Schiphol has also extended its passenger cap through October.

** However, London's Gatwick airport does not plan to extend existing limits on passenger numbers beyond the end of August as it has ramped up security staffing, while a Lufthansa board member has said the worst of the flight chaos was over for the German airline.

HIRING AND INCENTIVES

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

** Schiphol, one of Europe's busiest airports, agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security staff 5.25 euros ($5.50) extra per hour during the summer. It needed to hire 500 security staff after beginning the season with around 10,000 fewer workers than before the pandemic.

** Only around 150 airport workers from Turkey will be deployed at German airports, far fewer than initially expected. They will help with baggage handling under temporary contracts that will run through early November.

** Airport security company ICTS, which operates at Charles de Gaulle, offered a one-off 180 euro bonus to those delaying their vacation until after Sept. 15 and 150 euros for staff who sign up new recruits, a CGT union representative said.

($1 = 0.9933 euros)

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


ę Reuters 2022
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AIR FRANCE-KLM 0.00% 1.27 Real-time Quote.-34.95%
AMAZON.COM, INC. -1.63% 92.42 Delayed Quote.-43.65%
EASYJET PLC -2.57% 382.9 Delayed Quote.-29.32%
FRAPORT AG 0.10% 41.28 Delayed Quote.-30.31%
ICTS INTERNATIONAL N.V. -2.30% 6.8 Delayed Quote.-25.27%
INTERNATIONAL CONSOLIDATED AIRLINES GROUP, S.A. -0.51% 133.62 Delayed Quote.-5.74%
LUFTHANSA 0.85% 7.592 Delayed Quote.21.81%
NORWEGIAN AIR SHUTTLE ASA 0.50% 8.788 Real-time Quote.-18.66%
RYANAIR HOLDINGS PLC -1.15% 12.93 Real-time Quote.-14.23%
SAS AB (PUBL) 0.98% 0.62 Delayed Quote.-51.86%
US DOLLAR / TURKISH LIRA (USD/TRY) 0.03% 18.6292 Delayed Quote.39.77%
WIZZ AIR HOLDINGS PLC 0.00% 2150 Delayed Quote.-48.66%
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