Summer Chaos Ahead: Planned Pilot Strikes in Spain

Summer Chaos Ahead: Planned Pilot Strikes in Spain

Travel plans of thousands of British passengers flying to and from Spain could be disrupted by a series of pilot strikes.

The Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (Sepla) proposed a wave of strikes during the summer in all airlines represented by the union. Currently, Sepla has union representation in Air Nostrum, Air Europa, Iberia, Iberia Express, Vueling, Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, Swiftair, Plus Ultra, Jet 2, Eurowings and Evelop.

At a press conference on 12 May, the union expressed concern that strikes by Air Nostrum and Air Europa were being restricted by “minimum service requirements” even during strikes. The legislation means that of about 80 scheduled flights per day that airlines have, only about 18-20 flights are cancelled during strike action therefore the airlines didn't feel any pressure to enter negotiations.

Sepla’s secretary, Javier Fernández-Picazo, has warned that workers in the aviation sector are tired of enduring mistreatment by the Spanish government. 

Fernández-Picazo also added that no decision had been finalised but industrial action “is on the table”

Sepla is trying to get others to join them, such as air traffic control and cabin crew, arguing that government legislation has ruined the ‘constitutional right to strike.’ In effect, it has watered down the impact of strikes meaning airline chiefs felt no obligation to negotiate with their employees.

Sepla announced eight new strike days at Air Europa for May 22, 23, 25, 26, 29 and 30, as well as June 1 and 2 at all bases and work centres in Spain.

How Strikes Affect British Travellers

The impact of the strikes could be felt not only by the airlines themselves but also by their customers and partners. 

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Spain received 13.7 million international tourists in the first quarter of 2023 and more is expected to visit Spain, particularly during the summer season. The data also revealed that the UK continues to lead the tourism outbound market with 1.1 million tourist arrivals. 

With the looming strike action, holidaymakers who have booked on affected flights may experience disruption, inconvenience, and additional costs, while other airlines may face capacity constraints and operational challenges due to rerouted traffic and increased demand. 

The airports and ground handling companies involved in the flights could also be affected by the strikes, which may require additional staff and resources to handle.

The situation is still developing, and it is unclear how many flights and routes will be affected by the strikes. However, travellers planning to fly to or from Spain during the summer season are advised to monitor the situation closely and check for alternatives. It is also recommended to have a contingency plan in case of disruption, such as travel insurance, flexible tickets, or alternative transport options.

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