A series of disputes over working conditions in the airline sector is causing misery for UK holidaymakers.
Possible strike action by staff at firms including British Airways and Ryanair, as well as a number of UK airports, has put hundreds of flights at risk of cancellation.
The disruption has led this year’s holiday season to be described as a “summer of strikes”.
Some of the disputes may continue throughout the summer.
Ryanair pilots: Strikes planned
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has set strike dates for UK-based Ryanair pilots in August and September.
Pilots will strike across two periods:
- Thursday 22 August and Friday 23 August
- Throughout Monday 2 September to Wednesday 4 September
Balpa has highlighted issues with staff pensions, maternity benefits and the need for a fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure as grounds for the action.
Balpa’s general secretary’s Brian Strutton said: “No pilot wants to spoil the public’s travel plans but at the moment it seems we have no choice.”
Ryanair argues that it recently agreed a 20% salary increase, and says it has “written to Balpa asking them to return to talks”.
Heathrow workers: Strike planned
A strike planned for Tuesday 6 August was suspended after Heathrow made an improved pay offer to workers.
Organised by Unite the Union, 4,000 workers had been expected to take part.
Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said it would not be revealing details of the offer until its members had voted on the new package.
A further 48-hour walkout is still scheduled on Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August, and expected to take place should workers reject the offer.
British Airways pilots: Talks ongoing
Balpa also represent pilots for British Airways, who are currently locked in a disagreement over pay.
British Airways lost an appeal on 31 July aimed at halting planned strike action – opening the way for the pilots to name dates for a potential strike.
In July, BA offered pilots a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which was accepted by Unite and GMB, but rejected by Balpa.
The talks are ongoing, and no dates for strike action have been announced.
Gatwick security staff: Talks ongoing
Security workers at Gatwick airport suspended strike action on 7 August after receiving a “dramatically improved pay offer”.
Members of Unite who are employed by ICTS (UK) were due to stage a 48-hour strike starting 6:00am on Saturday 10 August, with a further four day strike scheduled to begin on Tuesday 20 August.
Unite says workers are being balloted with the recommendation to accept.
Stansted check-in staff: Deal agreed
Unite the Union, on behalf of check-in staff at Stansted Airport, agreed a pay deal on 1 August, averting action that could have affected thousands of EasyJet passengers.
Unite said that the package amounted to a 13% pay rise for most of the workforce for the year starting April 2019, and recognition of Unite as the trade union for collective bargaining purposes.
A strike by check-in staff was due to have started on Friday 2 August.
What are my passenger rights?
Media reports have used the phrase “summer of strikes” to refer to the unusually high number of industrial disputes affecting flight schedules.
Many passengers have been forced to change their plans or been unable to take flights, losing money in the process.
According to ABTA, 60% of the UK population take foreign holidays, based on the 12 months to August 2018.
Under European air passengers’ rights rules, airlines should offer compensation of €250 to €600 for flights that arrive three hours or more behind schedule.