© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Passengers queue for the check in desk at Heathrow Terminal 5 airport in London, Britain, June 1, 2022.REUTERS/Hannah McKay
(Reuters) – Strikes and staff shortages are forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights and causing hours-long queues at major airports, dashing hopes of a sizzling first summer after COVID lockdowns.
Here’s what we know:
After sweeping job cuts and taking big pay cuts when COVID-19 brought travel to a grinding halt, staff across the industry from pilots to baggage handlers are asking for big pay increases and better working conditions.
Norwegian Air last week agreed a 3.7% pay rise for pilots among other benefits, in a sign of what other airlines may have to offer to avoid labour strife.
IAG-owned British Airways check-in staff at Britain’s busiest airport may strike next month over a pandemic-driven pay cut they say has not been fully restored.
Security workers at Brussels airport are planning to down tools on June 20 and pilots for Brussels Airlines on June 23-25.
** Charles de Gaulle, Paris
Workers at France’s main airport went on strike on June 9 to demand a 300 euro ($313) per month increase in pay and better working conditions, leading to the cancellation of 25% of flights. Further action is planned for July 2.
Seven unions from Italy, France, Portugal, Belgium and Spain warned in May cabin crew could launch a strike this summer if the airline did not offer a “meaningful response” to their demands for better working conditions.
Since then, Portuguese and Spanish cabin staff announced plans to strike in late June and early July.
** SAS AB
Some 1,000 SAS pilots in Denmark, Norway and Sweden could walk out from late June over disagreements on wages and ways to cut costs at the struggling Nordic airline.
REDUCED SUMMER SCHEDULES:
Airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa (ETR:) and EasyJet, are cutting the number of flights while airports, including Gatwick and Schiphol, are limiting the volume of passengers they will handle over the summer.
HIRING SPREE AND INCENTIVES:
Airports and airlines are scrambling to hire more workers from pilots to security and border control staff and baggage handlers after many left the industry during the COVID-19 crisis
Industry executives say it is hard to attract people to often physically demanding, relatively low paid work at airports often located out of town. Training staff and getting security clearance to work at airports also takes months.
** Schiphol has agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security staff 5.25 euros ($5.50) extra per hour during the summer.
One of Europe’s busiest airports needs to hire 500 security staff. Before COVID, there were 68,000 workers in and around the airport, now there are 58,000.
** The Portuguese government plans to more than double border control staff at the country’s six airports by July 4.
** In Spain, the police will hire 500 more staff taking the total to 1,700 working at the country’s busiest airports, including Madrid and Barcelona.
** At German airports, around 20% of positions in security, check-in and aircraft handling are vacant, according to Ralph Beisel, general manager from the airport association ADV.
There is a shortfall of 2,000 workers in ground handling.
The country’s aviation lobby – airlines, airports and ground service providers – has asked the federal government to allow them to hire 2,000 temporary workers from Turkey.
** Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris need to fill 4,000 jobs mainly in security, maintenance and travel retail, according to airport operator Groupe ADP and the CDG Alliance.
More than 20,000 people were laid off at Charles de Gaulle during the pandemic, according to the CGT union.
Airport security company ICTS which operates at Charles de Gaulle is paying a one-off 180 euro bonus to staff for delaying their vacation until after Sept. 15 and 150 euros to staff who sign up new recruits, according to CGT representative Marie Marivel.
($1 = 0.9546 euros)