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More woes for British travellers as workers announce 8-day strike action at Gatwick airport

file photo: people queue to enter the terminal at gatwick airport in southern england
File photo: Gatwick Airport

Workers at Britain’s No.2 airport Gatwick will strike for eight days at the end of July and in early August, potentially causing cancellations and travel misery for thousands of passengers at the busiest time of year for summer holidays.

The Unite trade union said around 950 workers, including ground handlers, baggage handles and check-in agents, will walk out in a pay dispute for four days from July 28-Aug. 1 and then another four days from Aug. 4-8.

“Given the scale of the industrial action, disruption, delays and cancellations are inevitable across the airport,” Unite said in its statement.

Gatwick, which is located about 30 miles south of London, said it will support airlines with their contingency plans to ensure flights operate as scheduled.

A key hub for leisure flights to southern European beach destinations, easyJet EZJ.L, TUI TUIT.L and British Airways ICAG.L all operate hundreds of daily flights.

Europe’s ongoing strike-related travel disruptions

EUROCONTROL
One of the Eurocontrol trade unions has announced a six-month period when industrial action could take place in the Network Manager Operations Centre, which oversees traffic across the European airspace, the pan-European organisation said on July 7. The union has not set specific dates for a strike.

BELGIUM
Ryanair RYA.I pilots in Belgium will strike on July 15-16 in demand of higher wages and better working conditions, their union said on July 7. The strike could affect around 140 flights from Charleroi airport, but it is yet unclear how many pilots will join and how many flights will need to be cancelled.

BRITAIN
EasyJet EZJ.Lhas axed 2% of its summer flight schedule, affecting holiday plans of 180,000 customers. The British airline said on July 10 it had plenty of crew and pilots but worries over air traffic control challenges across Europe meant it had cancelled 1,700 flights, mostly from London’s Gatwick airport, for the rest of July and August.
At Birmingham Airport, around 100 security officers and terminal technicians will begin continuous strike action from July 18. The strikes will severely impact the airport’s security and terminal maintenance, leading to flight delays, the Unite union said.

FRANCE
Repeated air traffic control (ATC) strikes in France, related to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise pension age, have led to delays and limited flights across the country, causing more air space congestion in Europe.
Ryanair, which has asked the European Commission to protect overflights from strike disruption, cancelled more than 900 flights in June mainly due to French ATC strikes.

ITALY

Multiple unions have called a nationwide airport staff strike on July 15 related to talks for a new collective contract. Air traffic controllers, baggage handlers and check-in personnel along with Italian pilots of Vueling will walk out between 10 a.m and 6 p.m. local time. Malta Air pilots and flight attendants will join them from noon for four hours.
Talking to Italian media, Transport Minister Matteo Salvini said the companies and workers would meet the following week to continue negotiations.
Air traffic control company ENAV ENAV.MI has confirmed there will be no strikes in the Italian air transport sector between July 27 and Sept. 5 due to a summer exemption provided for in the industry regulations.

PORTUGAL
Easyjet cancelled 350 flights arriving to or departing from Portugal ahead of a cabin staff strike on July 21-25, the SNPVAC union of civil aviation flight personnel said. It will be the union’s third strike since the beginning of the year.

SPAIN
Pilots at Iberia Regional Air Nostrum, who had been striking every Monday and Friday since Feb. 27, went on a daily indefinite strike from June 6 amid a pay dispute. As of July 14, Iberia said on its website some flight routes could be affected.

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