2018 was the year of airline strikes that rocked the entire European air travel scene. Did 2019 prove to be any calmer? Well, our record of strikes – of airline staff, airport employees or just adjacent industries – records over 100 industrial actions that disrupted flights. Hundreds of thousands of people saw their travel plans shattered.
Strike against the pension reform in France in December
Some of the biggest strikes of the year – and even of all time – occurred towards the end of the year. In December, France was gripped by the biggest mass strike in the country’s history. The people were unhappy about the new pension reform that would negatively impact the pensions of all, but especially those that had spent a long time unemployed or in low-wage positions. Air France crew joined the strike and so did the air traffic controllers. The latter explains why even non-French airlines like British Airways and EasyJet had to cancel flights in the hundreds. It’s also notable that this strike is one of the few large-scale strikes to not be borne out of the airline’s inability or unwillingness to deal with the demands of their staff.
Lufthansa employee strike in November
This was decidedly not the case when Lufthansa’s employees in Germany went on strike at the start of November. After the court didn’t stop the UFO union from going forward with the strike, 1300 flights had to be canceled. 180,000 passengers had their plans disrupted. This accounted for about one-fifth of all flights the airline was to carry during the two days of the strike. The unions warned that further strikes will happen without notice – indeed, the German law is very lenient when it comes to forewarning one’s employer of a strike. And while the flight regulation does not usually award compensation for disrupted flights, Lufthansa still had to do damage control by offering passengers train tickets or replacement flights.
British Airways strike in September
Back in September, British Airways faced its own strike of monumental proportions. The airline had to cancel 1500 flights, ruining the plans of 280,000 flyers and costing the airline an estimated 80 million pounds in revenue. The reason for the strike? Continuing disagreements between BA and the British pilot union BALPA, which accused the airline of souring matters by intimidating pilots who would consider joining any industrial actions. The airline had reportedly emailed more than 4000 pilots, warning that a strike would be considered a breach of their contract and result in the suspension of benefits for three years. This is probably not the best approach to take when dealing with absolutely critical personnel that is highly sought-after in the industry.
Alitalia strike in October
Alitalia’s strike in October was a lot less clear cut. The airline is pretty dire straits, as it’s bankrupt and now under the management of the Italian government. No solid deal seems to be forthcoming for the airline, so the unions, protesting the uncertainty, went on strike. As a result of this, Alitalia had to cancel about 200 flights.
ATC and airport staff strikes in Europe
Nearly twenty disruptions in Europe were caused by ATC strikes. Air traffic controllers are still integral when it comes to aviation. Most often, air traffic controller strikes are the ones that can’t be laid at the feet of airlines, since they’re not the ones employing these folks. Meanwhile, their employers still seem to refuse to increase pay and solve staffing issues. As such, the law not mandating compensation for these disruptions makes sense.
However, those are not the only airport employees that go on strikes. Baggage handlers and security staff have gone on strikes a few times as well. In one strike in April, about 60,000 airport staff went on a strike – not a great time for the Scottish air travel scene.
As we can see, just like with titanic Ryanair strikes in 2018, disagreements over staff pay (as well as other work conditions) are the reasons behind the biggest strikes of the year – or even history. It took the French government hurting basically every working French citizen to cause a flight disruption disagreement bigger than airlines no addressing the needs and requests of their employees.
Flight compensation is, unfortunately, not due most often when a flight is disrupted during a strike
It has always been Skycop’s position that disruptions due to airline staff strikes should be considered as legitimate reasons for claiming disrupted flight compensation. As far as we can tell, bullheaded tactics by British Airways ruined the travel plans of more than a quarter-million people and cost it over 80 million pounds of revenue. Imagine how big that amount would have been if the airline was forced to pay out compensation of up to €600 to each of those passengers? We have already written about how airlines skew the results of their end of year financial reports by not reporting money owed as flight compensation. Now imagine them doing if they had hundreds of thousands more claims to address
However, the good news is that Skycop has experience in claiming compensation for delayed, canceled or overbooked flights. If your flight was disrupted by something other than a historical strike, apocalyptic volcano eruption or World War III, claim flight compensation with us! Up to €600 in compensation could be yours – just check out our compensation calculator. And don’t forget to fight for your rights as air passengers. Maybe one day, we’ll get compensated for strikes as well!