Spanish Ryanair staff begin five months of strikes amid travel turmoil across Europe

·3-min read
Travellers at the Terminal 2 of El Prat airport in Barcelona on July 12  (AFP via Getty Images)
Travellers at the Terminal 2 of El Prat airport in Barcelona on July 12 (AFP via Getty Images)

Ryanair staff in Spain have begun a series of strikes set to stretch for five months as industrial action causes pain for millions of summer holidaymakers across Europe.

Cabin staff have announced they will stage walkouts every week between Monday and Thursday from August 8 until January 7 to press demands for higher pay and better working conditions.

Ten airports are expected to be affected by the strikes: Alicante, Barcelona, Girona, Ibiza, Madrid, Malaga, Palma in Mallorca, Santiago de Compostela, Sevilla and Valencia.

It follows strikes in July when Ryanair workers walked out for several days at a number of Spanish airports.

In a statement, Ryanair said the strikes “have had little or no impact on Ryanair’s flights to or from Spain”.

In July alone Ryanair operated over 3,000 daily flights and carried a record 16.8m passengers – many of them to/from Spain. Ryanair expects that these latest threatened strikes, which involve only a handful of our Spanish cabin crew, will have zero impact on our Spanish flights or schedules in August or September, a spokesperson said.

A Ryanair employee holds flyers as they protest at Barcelona’s airport on July 1 (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ryanair employee holds flyers as they protest at Barcelona’s airport on July 1 (AFP via Getty Images)

After sweeping job cuts and pay cuts when Covic-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.

The disputes have triggered a wave of industrial action threatening to cause travel chaos for holidaymakers jetting off on summer holidays across the continent.

EASYJET

Spain-based pilots at Easyjet said on July 29 they would strike for nine days in August.

The Spanish Union of Airline Pilots said there will be three 72-hour strikes taking place from 12th-14th, 19th-21st and 27th-29th.

The pilots will strike from bases in Barcelona, Malaga and Palma.

Meanwhile, Spain-based cabin crew suspended their strike planned for July 29-31 after it reached a deal with the company. The workers went into strike previously in July, first on July 1-3 and again on July 15-17, which caused some flight cancellations and delays for the budget airline.

PORTUGUESE AIRPORTS

Portugal’s civil aviation workers have threatened to go on strike on August 19-21. Two unions representing workers accused airport operator ANA, which manages 10 airports in Portugal, and French group Vinci, which controls ANA, of making multi-million euro net profits but not paying decent wages to workers.

LUFTHANSA

Pilots at the German flagship carrier voted on July 31 in favour of industrial action. Pilots union VC’s board member said the vote did not necessarily mean a strike would happen and that they were ready to negotiate.

VC is demanding a 5.5% pay rise this year for its pilots and automatic inflation compensation thereafter. Lufthansa’s chief executive said on August 4 the airline had set dates to negotiate with pilots in the following week.

Passengers queue under a display announcing cancelled flights in the Lufthansa terminal at the Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich during a strike of airline ground staff employees on July 27 (AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers queue under a display announcing cancelled flights in the Lufthansa terminal at the Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich during a strike of airline ground staff employees on July 27 (AFP via Getty Images)

The airline on August 4 reached a deal with its ground staff, after a strike on July 27 forced it to cancel more than 1,000 flights. The agreement includes a pay hike of 200 euros a month from July 1 this year, plus an increase by 2.5% or at least 125 euros a month from Jan. 1 next year and another 2.5% from July 1, 2023.

REDUCED SUMMER SCHEDULES

Airlines including British Airways, Lufthansa, easyJet, KLM and Wizz Air have cut thousands of flights from their summer schedules to cope with the disruption, while major airports including Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol have capped passenger traffic.

British Airways halted ticket sales on short-haul flights departing from Heathrow until mid-August, following the airport’s decision to cap capacity. The airline’s website showed no tickets for flights before August 16 to popular European destinations, including Paris, Milan and Amsterdam.

On August 2, Schiphol extended the passenger cap it had introduced earlier to cope with long waiting times and other logistical problems into September and October.