Airports in Europe facing more travel disruption as Easter weekend nears

 Thursday, April 6, 2023 


European airlines, airports, and air traffic authorities are bracing for Easter travel disruptions due to strikes and cancellations in various parts of Europe, marking a significant test for the industry’s ability to handle external pressures.

Strikes have already taken place in France, Portugal, Britain, and Germany in recent weeks and could cause travel disruptions during the Easter holidays. However, the details of the delays are still unclear, despite airlines’ efforts to tackle the pressing problem of labor shortages by improving coordination and staffing up for a potential return to pre-pandemic traffic levels.

The strikes are causing significant concern for airlines, which have to pay compensation to passengers under European Union’s strict passenger compensation rules without getting compensated for air traffic delays. Consumer groups, on the other hand, are calling for quicker reactions from airlines and phasing out consumer pre-payments for air tickets, especially during times of disruption.

The situation in France is particularly worrying, as strikes have caused thousands of hours of delays so far, sometimes triggering 70,000 minutes of delays in a single day. The compounding effect of flight delays is causing systemic issues, as planes arrive later and take off later in their destination airports.

Industry executives are calling for a new approach to these disputes to minimize the ongoing tumult. Some are suggesting a coordinated truce for critical infrastructure, to avoid different strikes at different times that always affect the overall system so strongly. However, strikes are a national issue, and it’s challenging to prevent them.

The travel disruptions come as travel demand is recovering, with departures from Britain during the Easter weekend set to go up 11% compared with last year and by 650% since 2021. However, they will remain about 13% lower than before the pandemic. The disruptions could have dire impacts on the region’s reputation with tourists, a key driver of the economy.

In conclusion, the ongoing travel disruptions in Europe due to strikes and cancellations are a significant test for the industry’s ability to handle external pressures. It remains to be seen how the situation will evolve and whether a new approach to these disputes can minimize the impact on the overall system.

Inputs: SKIFT

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