We are half way into the 2018, but if 2017 brought a fortune for the European aviation, this year something just isn‘t right. First, it was the increased fuel prices and now, strike actions that pose a growing threat to European airlines. According to Eamonn Brennan, the CEO of Eurocontrol, strikes are already apparent in data on flight delays – CODA report for April shows protests to worsen the overall punctuality of European airlines.
Of course there were challenges last year as well, yet despite global pilot shortage and European airline consolidation, it was the year with the fastest growing passenger traffic since 2004. Based on airport association ACI Europe, traveller numbers grew by 8,5%. The surge in traffic is expected to continue, but current carriers’ management controversies raise doubt over its ability to satisfy the raising demand.
Strikes have been baffling the European air space since February with Italian and French airlines being among those to itemize most of the ravages. By May, Air France employees had their 14th protest, which made company’s shares drop by 9,7% with losses of more than €300 million. Over the same period, Italy went through 3 strikes initiated by workers’ unions, air traffic controllers (ATC) and baggage handlers. All of the previously mentioned protests have partly or fully paralyzed airports, cancelled flights or caused exhausting delays.
From cabin crew to ATC, the most common demand among striking workers is pay rise. Unsatisfied with the eroding salary despite publicly praised rise in profits, employees are turning to unions. Vueling staff, Ryanair pilots and German union’s Verdi members are also among the protesters.
Persisting tension between carriers and its staff has drawn flight compensation company’s Skycop attention: “Our data shows that strikes trouble more than 1,5 million passengers a year and the most irritating fact is that none of them are protected by the EU law. €6 billion – this is the sum owed to those whose travels are interrupted by strikes per year,” – says Marius Stonkus, the CEO of Skycop.
Delays and cancellations driven by industrial actions are not looking good for summer. Worker unions representing Ryanair’s cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy have already announced a planned summer strike if the carrier fails to meet the new requirements.
Protests might be an effective measure for some, yet passengers are those who suffer the most in these situations. Skycop says they are certain that the current air passenger regulation is outdated and must change: “We have been analysing the issue for a few months now and today we find ourselves in the final stages of the process – every passenger has been given a chance to speak up and sign our petition against the current law’s shortcomings on international platform Avaaz.”
At the final stage the petition will be taken to the responsible EU institutions which in turn will be summoned to reconsider strikes as a claimable flight disruption in the context of recent events. All those who have been stranded in European airports because of a strike can sign the petition by clicking on the link below.