Holidaymakers face weekend of travel chaos as airport staff strike across Europe

·3 min read
Travel chaos - LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
Travel chaos - LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Holidaymakers are facing a weekend of travel chaos as airline staff at Europe's busiest destinations go on strike.

Ryanair cabin crew in Spain walked out on Thursday and will go on strike again this weekend. It is likely to cause disruption in Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Alicante, Sevilla, Palma, Valencia, Girona and Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza.

EasyJet crew in Spain will also strike for 9 days from Friday.

It comes after Ryanair staff in Belgium, Portugal, France, Italy and Spain staged walkouts last weekend.

It is just the latest in a string of problems that have plagued the aviation sector. Figures from the data company Cirium show that in the past month airlines have cut 611 flights from their schedule for the week of July 1-7.

Strike action is weighing over a sector that is already battling chronic staff shortages. A rapid increase in demand for international travel has not been met with adequate hiring.

Travel - LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
Travel - LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Although airports and airlines are trying to ramp up recruitment, they are struggling to employ people quickly enough. This has led to delays at check-in and security, and bags going missing.

The disruption continued on Thursday morning after passengers due to fly from Heathrow were blindsided when the airport ordered flights to be cancelled because it could not handle them.

Thousands of travellers were disrupted by a rare "schedule intervention", which led to the scrapping of 30 flights during the morning peak. Some passengers did not find out their flights were cancelled until they arrived at what is the UK's busiest airport.

Passengers complained about the disruption online. Andy Mossack, the travel writer and broadcaster, wrote on Twitter: "Total chaos at Heathrow this morning. British Airways flights cancelled and zero customer service!"

Heathrow blamed a surge in late bookings as passengers scrambled to re-book flights that had been cancelled by airlines departing from other airports.

However, the consumer group, Which?, said there was "absolutely no excuse for it to be ordering on-the-day flight cancellations".

Travel chaos - LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
Travel chaos - LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "Heathrow knew how many passengers were due to fly from the airport weeks ago, so there is absolutely no excuse for it to be ordering on-the-day flight cancellations. These last-minute cancellations are hugely upsetting for travellers.

"British Airways and any airline forced to cancel journeys must inform customers of their refund and rebooking rights, including alternative flights with rival carriers, if that is the best option. Airports and airlines need to be held to account for the unacceptable disruption travellers have faced in recent months."

British Airways said in a statement: "As a result of Heathrow's requirement for all airlines to reduce their schedules, we've made a small number of cancellations.

"We're in contact with affected customers to apologise, advise them of their consumer rights and offer them alternative options, including a refund or rebooking."