It’s not just Dublin Airport that is facing one of its busiest periods this weekend, when people take to the skies in a wave of post-pandemic catch-up trips.
But even if prospective travelers make it through the queues for baggage drop-off and security at Irish airports, some may discover even more disruption to the European destinations they flee to.
There are fears that this summer may be marked by industrial unrest and escalating travel disruptions.
Here are five ways your travel plans can be affected this summer.
Ryanair’s cabin crew are taking action in Belgium, Spain and Portugal
Thousands of passengers have already had their travel plans canceled, with hundreds left stranded at airports in Belgium, Spain and Portugal, as a dispute over pay and working conditions for cabin crew gets settled.
The campaign started yesterday and will continue over the weekend.
Ryanair predicts only limited disruption, especially as the Spanish government has taken some measures to protect its tourism industry from impact.
The biggest disruption so far, however, has been in Belgium, where 300 flights fell from the weekend schedule. Some passengers there have complained that they can not get a refund for pre-booked hotel accommodation and that they can not rebook their flights, especially for short city breaks.
A woman who left Charlerois airport in Brussels this morning said: “I was only informed this morning that the flight was canceled … we are trying to organize a new flight, but the problem is that the price of the flight represents the total price of the city trip.”
Workers taking action have accused Ryanair of disregarding local labor laws, which cover issues such as the minimum wage. They also say that working conditions need to be improved.
“We have been sounding the alarm for months that there will not be enough staff for the summer and unfortunately no structural changes have been made,” flight attendant Jeremy von Houtte told Belgian television channel RTL-TVI.
“Rest times are reduced to a minimum, so people are exhausted and sick leave. It is a vicious circle. There are not enough staff and you can not find enough staff,” he said.
Ricardo Penarroias, chairman of SNPVAC, the union behind Portugal’s strike, said: “Working conditions are terrible. A crew member is not even allowed to take a bottle of water on a flight.”
Staff in France and Italy are also expected to arrange a walk-out this weekend.
Crews in Spain will also strike again on June 30 and July 1 and July 2, when the holiday season begins.
Spain-based cabin crew on another airline easyJet also plans to go on strike for nine days in July, demanding a 40% increase in their base salary, which is much lower than in countries such as France and Germany.
Disruptions are expected at London’s Heathrow later this summer
Like Dublin Airport, Heathrow also expects a huge increase in passenger numbers this summer. It raised its forecast for those passing one of Europe’s busiest air hubs from 53 million to 54.4 million for this year.
But on Thursday, British Airways staff at London Airport also voted to strike for pay.
The proposed combat measures concern almost half of the airline’s Heathrow-based check-in and ground staff, largely in customer-oriented roles.
The GMB union said 95% of BA staff at Heathrow Airport who voted supported the strike, after BA failed to withdraw a 10% pay cut introduced during the pandemic.
About 700 workers had been voted, of which 80% voted.
The strike is set to take place during the high summer holiday period over the next two months, GMB said, warning of a “strike summer”.
Two weeks’ notice must be given to British Airways before this strike can take place.
Travelers to the UK are already experiencing chaos on train journeys
Much of Britain’s rail network already existed paralyzed by industrial action this week in another dispute over workers’ wages.
The railway network was kept close on Tuesday and again on Thursday, when 40,000 workers went on strike.
This weekend, when major events such as the Glatonbury Music Festival kick off, passengers have been advised not to use trains unless absolutely necessary.
Only about one in five posts is currently running and unions have warned of further action unless an agreement is reached.
Although some commuters could avoid the disruption by working from home, operators fear that many people will be reluctant to abandon their weekend trips, especially for pre-booked events.
A source in the railway industry told PA’s news agency that even though the stations were “relatively quiet” during the first two days of the strike, there was “a nervousness” about what will happen today.
Many seaside resorts will not have any services today, including Bournemouth, Dorset, Blackpool, Lancashire; Margate, Kent, Llandudno in North Wales, and Skegness, Lincolnshire.
Cornwall will also not have any trains, so all scheduled passengers, including those traveling from Ireland, are advised to plan their journey in advance.
Staff shortages are a problem throughout Europe
Like Dublin, airlines and airport operators across Europe have struggled with staff shortages to manage passenger flows, and this is only expected to get worse as the summer months approach.
The Dutch airport Schiphol, Europe’s third busiest, has also faced ongoing problems since last spring, with huge queues and long delays caused by hostilities and staff shortages.
The Dutch airline KLM promised this week that most passengers already booked for the summer holiday period will not face changes in their travel plans, but it predicted some further cancellations “on a limited scale.”
Schiphol Airport recently agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security personnel an additional € 5.25 per hour during the summer to keep things going.
The cost of fuel and car rental
The cost of Car rental in Ireland has been in the news recently, but this is also a problem across Europe, as car rental companies that sold their stock during lockdown are now trying to rebuild their fleets at a higher cost. In some cases, this is passed on to the consumer.
A recent survey by icarinsurance.com – which looked at the cost of renting a medium-sized car during the first week of the summer holidays at six popular destinations, including Faro, Nice, Barcelona, Milan, Crete and Dalaman – showed that prices had risen by up to 400% in some cases.
In the UK, Uber was forced to issue a statement this week, after being criticized by online consumers for raising prices during the recent railway disruption.
In a statement, the company said: “As a result of the strike currently taking place on the National Rail and London Underground networks, we have limited the level at which prices can rise, and all users are shown the price of their journey before booking.”
National Express says it has seen an increase in demand for its services, with intended customers being advised to book their tickets in advance.
There have also been road congestion warnings across the UK this weekend as motorists use their own transport instead of taking the train.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, which represents black taxis, said: “We expect London’s roads to be more congested than usual, causing delays on some journeys, but our members will be out doing everything they can to help people get where they need to be as safe and efficient as possible. “
Fuel prices across Europe have also skyrocketed, as supply is down and demand for travel again after the Covid-19 lock-in has increased.
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