Eamonn Holmes praises airport staff amid travel chaos
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The travel industry is already struggling to cope with a surge in passenger demand this summer since most worldwide COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. However, passengers have been served a fresh blow with the announcement of industrial strike action affecting several major airlines.
Pilots and cabin crew members are due to strike over the course of the peak summer holiday season.
Key players in Europe are among those striking, including Ryanair and easyJet staff.
Ryanair staff are due to strike across Europe over an ongoing dispute about pay and conditions.
The current action does not affect staff in the UK, but major holiday destinations will be heavily impacted by the industrial action.
Ryanair workers already took part in strike action Belgium and Portugal from June 24 to 26, in France from June 25 to 26, in Italy on June 25, and in Spain from June 24 to 26, on June 30, and again over July 1 and 2.
Further strikes across Spain are expected to take place on July 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 28.
A Ryanair spokesperson said the action was “poorly supported” and called by unions representing “tiny numbers” of staff.
They added: “Less than one percent of Ryanair’s flights have been affected in the past month by recent minor and poorly supported cabin crew strikes called by unions who are either not recognised by or who represent tiny numbers of Ryanair crews.
“Air Traffic Control (ATC) and airport staff shortages across Europe, which are beyond Ryanair’s control may however cause some minor disruption and any passengers whose flights are disrupted by ATC staff shortages will be notified of their entitlements by email/SMS.”
On July 21, Ryanair welcomed a ballot approval by its Spanish based pilots on post-Covid pay restoration, which follows the recent acceptance by its French based pilots of a similar agreement.
Ryanair’s People Director, Darrell Hughes said: “We welcome these long-term agreements which run until 2027 and will deliver numerous improvements for our pilots based in Spain and France.
“While the recovery from the impact of the pandemic is still ongoing and our industry faces significant challenges, this long-term agreement delivers stability, accelerated pay restoration, future pay increases and other benefit improvements for pilots.
“While all of our pilots across our European network are covered by 2020 Emergency Agreements, we continue to work with our pilots and their unions on new deals, similar to those concluded with SEPLA and SNPL, and have now successfully re-negotiated accelerated pay restoration and improved long-term agreements with over 85 percent of our pilots.”
Spanish easyJet cabin crew are expected to host a third walkout of the summer between July 29 and 31.
Staff in the country previously took part in 72-hour strikes between July 1 and 4 and July 15 and 17.
An estimated 450 workers based at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca will walk out.
Spain is one of the UK’s most loved holiday destinations and although strike action does not impact staff at home, those jetting off to Spain may experience some disruption.
An easyJet spokesperson said: “Should the industrial action go ahead, there could be some disruption to our flying programme to and from Malaga, Palma and Barcelona during the strike period but at this stage, easyJet plans to operate its full schedule and we would like to reassure customers that we will do everything possible to minimise any disruption.”
USO union general secretary Miguel Galan said: “The conclusion is very clear; at easyJet there is money for everything, except for Spain.
“If they come to the meeting once again empty-handed, the strike will go ahead.”
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BA was facing strike action as hundreds of Heathrow customer service agents planned to walk out this month.
A spokesperson for the airline, at the time, said they were “extremely disappointed” about the proposed strike.
The industrial action was raised over an ongoing pay dispute regarding a 10 percent salary cut during the pandemic.
While the airline offered staff a one-off bonus payment, employees maintained they wanted their former wages reinstated.
An estimated 700 Unite union members at the British flag-bearing airline, most of whom are check-in staff, were expected to walk out.
However, the good news is, strike action has since been suspended.
According to the union, BA has made a “vastly improved” pay offer after ongoing talks.
The airline said it was “very pleased” with the outcome.
TUI, Jet2 and more
Happily, at the time of writing, no other major airlines in the UK have made any comments about plans for strike action.
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