Factbox-Europe's travel disruption stretches into autumn

FILE PHOTO: Long lines of waiting travellers at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport due to unannounced strike

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

Here is a summary of some of the developments:


After job and pay cuts when COVID-19 halted travel, staff across the industry from pilots to baggage handlers are asking for big pay increases and better working conditions.

** Ahead of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, which starts on Nov. 20, British union Unite said that hundreds of workers at London's Heathrow airport will walk out in the run-up to the soccer World Cup this month over demands for better pay.

** Pilots at Lufthansa's Eurowings began a three-day strike on Oct. 17 over working hours, their union said, confirming action that could affect thousands of the budget airline's passengers.

** In September, Lufthansa and pilots' union VC reached a deal in a wage dispute, averting a second strike after the first one forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

** Labour union FNV said on Oct. 6 that Amsterdam Schiphol airport offered security workers a pay rise of 20% on average to try to solve ongoing staff shortages. Schiphol, one of Europe's busiest airports, has grappled with long passenger queues for months and has cut capacity due to the lack of security staff.

** European flights faced widespread disruption on Sept. 16 as a French air traffic controllers' strike forced airlines to cancel half of those scheduled to arrive or depart Paris airports and others due to have flown over France.

** 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.

** EasyJet's Spain-based pilots walked out for nine days in August.

** SAS and Ryanair in July agreed terms with pilots, while British Airways and KLM signed deals with ground staffers. Norwegian Air in June agreed a 3.7% pay rise for pilots.


Airlines, including Lufthansa, British Airways, easyJet, KLM and Wizz Air, cut thousands of flights from their summer schedules to ease disruption, while major airports capped passenger numbers.

** Schiphol said on Sept. 29 it would reduce daily passenger numbers by around a fifth until at least March 2023, as it struggles to solve a shortage of security staff.

** Norwegian airline Flyr said on Oct. 4 it would cut spending, with plans for furloughs and potential moves to raise cash. The main rival of Norwegian Air and SAS will also adjust flight schedules during the winter season by putting non-profitable routes on hold, maintaining sufficient personnel to operate five or six of its 12 aircraft during the winter.

** British Airways said on Aug. 22 it would make further cancellations up to the end of October, after Heathrow extended its cap on passenger departures. It will also reduce its winter schedule by 8%, impacting around 10,000 flights.

** London's Gatwick airport lifted cap on passenger numbers at the end of August after it ramped up security staffing, while a Lufthansa board member said on Aug. 7 the worst of the flight chaos was over for the airline.


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 agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security staff 5.25 euros ($5.25) 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.

** Airport security company ICTS, which operates at Paris' 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.

** Only around 150 airport workers from Turkey were hired by German airports, far fewer than initially expected. They will help with baggage handling under temporary contracts that will run through 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 Reuters bureaus; Compiled by Boleslaw Lasocki, Antonis Triantafyllou, Tiago Brandao and Marie Mannes in Gdansk; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Milla Nissi and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)