More Airline Disruptions Could Result From Europe’s Strikes This Summer

Despite efforts by airlines to prevent a recurrence of last year’s disruptions, data from travel firms shows that strikes across Europe have increased aircraft cancellations and delays and decreased bookings to places like Paris.

According to data from travel claim management company AirHelp, over the Easter holiday weekend, from April 5–11, there were more flight cancellations and delays across Europe than in 2022 and 2019, most noticeably in France and Britain.

“The situation quickly deteriorated as France was sinking into the pension reform crisis. Charles de Gaulle airport is negatively affected, both as a destination and as a hub,” said Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at travel data firm ForwardKeys.

According to Airhelp statistics provided to Reuters, 62% of flights in France, where air traffic control workers have been striking recently, were on time, compared to 75% in 2022 and 76% in 2019, before the pandemic halted all foreign travel.

Over Easter, over 33,300 flights were canceled, up from 7,800 previous year, while 9,000 planes experienced delays of three hours or more, up from 6,800 the year before.

By the middle of March, transfers and pre-booked stays at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport had decreased by almost 75% from levels in 2019.

The operator of Paris airports, Aeroports de Paris (ADP.PA), estimated on Monday that it lost some 470,000 passengers as a result of the strikes between January and March.

Border strikes also disrupted air travel in Britain, with airports in London experiencing the most delays, according to AirHelp.

In comparison to 76% in 2022 and 81% in 2019, around 73% of flights were on time. 33,700 flights were cancelled, up from 26,600 the year before, while 10,800 flights, or 1% of all flights, were delayed by more than three hours, up from 9,500 the year before.

Some CEOs have requested intervention from the European Commission as a result of the continuous interruptions brought on by protracted labor unrest, which could result in rising expenses for airlines that have made significant efforts to contain issues.

The industry’s capacity to manage the increase in travelers after hiring more workers was put to the test during this year’s Easter weekend.

However, there is a specific concern that if strikes continue, tourist traffic, which was anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer, may suffer.

According to ForwardKeys, during the week of March 16 tickets to Charles de Gaulle airport from Europe decreased by 30% from 2019 while decreasing by only 8% from the United States.

And strikes appear to be continuing. A highly controversial plan to raise the state pension age was signed into law by President Macron on Saturday, angering the unions who had called for months of large-scale demonstrations to continue since this year’s January.

Due to a strike by security control workers organized by the union Verdi, Hamburg Airport in Germany has canceled all departures for Thursday and Friday.

The air traffic control organization Eurocontrol has previously issued a warning that delays may last into the northern hemisphere summer, particularly if strikes continue.

Last month, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary called it a “scandal” because French strikes have disrupted international travel, particularly the popular tourist route between Britain and Spain, by blocking many flights through French airspace.

Customers of airlines that experience lengthy delays may be entitled to compensation under European passenger rights laws, which has long been a source of contention for airlines operating on razor-thin profit margins.

Airlines claim that in order to alleviate their financial burden, airports and other stakeholders must also contribute to customer compensation.

(Adapted from

Categories: Economy & Finance, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Sustainability

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