Factbox-Europe’s travel disruption stretches into autumn

(Reuters) – Strikes and staff shortages have forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights in the first summer after widespread COVID lockdowns to avoid hours-long queues at major airports, with disruptions set to continue well into the autumn.

Here is a summary of some of the key developments:


After sweeping job and pay cuts as COVID-19 halted travel, workers across the industry, from pilots to baggage handlers, are demanding significant pay increases and better working conditions.

** European flights faced widespread disruption on September 16 when a strike by French air traffic controllers forced airlines to cancel half of flights scheduled to arrive or depart from Paris airports and others that had overflown France.

Ryanair said the travel plans of 80,000 passengers had been impacted as 420 flights, mainly due to fly via France, were cancelled.

** Members of Ryanair’s Spanish cabin crew union plan to strike Monday through Thursday every week until January 7 to push through demands for higher wages and better working conditions.

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** Lufthansa and pilots’ union VC settled a wage dispute on September 6, averting a second strike after the first forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

** EasyJet’s Spain-based pilots left the bases in Barcelona, ​​​​Malaga and Palma in Mallorca for nine days in August.

The country’s cabin crew suspended a three-day strike planned for late July after reaching a deal with the airline.

** SAS and Ryanair agreed terms with pilots’ unions in July, while British Airways and KLM signed ground crew contracts.

** Norwegian Air agreed in June, among other things, on a salary increase of 3.7% for pilots.


Airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways, easyJet, KLM and Wizz Air have canceled thousands of flights from their summer schedules to ease disruption, while major airports like London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol have extended passenger capacity caps into the autumn.

** Schiphol said on September 29 it would reduce daily passenger numbers by about a fifth by at least March 2023. The airport is trying to find a way to solve the lack of security personnel. Earlier this month, Schiphol said it would reduce daily passenger numbers by 18% until at least October 31.

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** After British Airways previously cut its summer flight schedule and suspended ticket sales for short-haul flights from Heathrow until mid-August, British Airways announced on August 22 that it would make further cancellations until the end of October after the airport extended its cap on passenger departures. In addition, the winter flight schedule will be reduced by 8%, affecting around 10,000 flights.

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


Industry leaders say it’s difficult to recruit for often physically demanding, relatively low-paying jobs at airports, which are often out of town. The training of new employees and their security clearance also takes months.

** Schiphol agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security guards an extra 5.25 euros ($5.25) per hour over the summer. It had to hire 500 security guards after the season started with around 10,000 fewer workers than before the pandemic.

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** Airport security company ICTS, which operates in Paris Charles de Gaulle, offered a one-time bonus of 180 euros for those who postpone their vacation until after September 15 and 150 euros for employees hiring new employees, a representative said of the CGT union.

** Only around 150 airport employees from Turkey were hired by German airports, far fewer than initially expected. They will be helping with baggage handling under temporary contracts that 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 the Reuters offices; compiled by Boleslaw Lasocki, Antonis Triantafyllou, Tiago Brandao and Marie Mannes in Danzig; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Milla Nissi and Mark Potter)