Key dates when European travel will be disrupted in 2023

Editor’s Note: This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

We are all looking forward to 2023 — the year travel returns.

However, after a series of problems from post-pandemic staff shortages to the number of flights in Europe, strikes remain an obstacle that still seems to be large for the travel industry.

This is because as the cost of living rises, workers across Europe are demanding wage increases in line with rising inflation. As a result, there is currently a wave of workplace disputes across the travel industry, which could mean we face a difficult few months of strikes, delays and cancel.

Here is a summary of the time and place.

Heathrow Airport on strike

London’s Heathrow Airport. STOCKINASIA/GETTY IMAGES

When: March 31 to April 9

Starting Friday, March 31, around 3,000 staff work at Terminal 5 in London Heathrow Airport (LHR) — including security guards, engineers and firefighters — plan to organize strikes amid a protracted dispute with Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited over wages.

The result is, Airline BritishThe terminal’s main occupant, was forced to cancel about 300 flights — about 32 scheduled flights a day.

Heathrow’s website informed passengers that, although the airport will remain open on strike days, “strikes may affect the itinerary of some passengers who plan to travel during this time.”

It is recommended to check your flight status with your airline for the latest information, adds: “On strike days, passengers will only be allowed through the security area with two pieces of hand luggage. Handbags and laptop bags count as one piece of carry-on baggage. Your checked baggage allowance remains as advertised by your airline.”

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In a statement, British Airways apologized for “several minor adjustments” to its schedule:

“We have apologized to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them multiple options, including rebooking a new flight with us or another airline or requesting a full refund. .”

In response to impending strike action, Heathrow said it will deploy an additional 1,000 staff – along with its management team – to assist passengers during the Easter holiday at the terminals.

UK Border Force on strike


When: April 28

On April 28, Border Force staff at airports across the UK will go on strike in the latest series of strike action by around 130,000 civil service workers. If the final strike on March 15 is anything to go by, up to 2,000 flights could be affected.

While working to minimize disruption, the UK government has warned that anyone traveling on April 28 and early the next day should prepare for longer waiting times at customs.

The strike action comes after members from 186 different employers across the civil service were voted on earlier in March, the Commercial and Public Service Union said.

PCS Secretary General Mark Serwotka said: “Our members will not back down on this dispute. “We know our strikes have caused serious disruption. New strikes and another day of national action will put pressure on a government that won’t listen.”

Ground staff on strike in Spain

Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 takes off from El Prat airport in Barcelona, ​​Spain. SHUTTERSTOCK

When: March 13-14, 16, 20-21, 23, 27-28, March 30; and March 3-4, 6, 10-11, 13.

Ground staff working for Swissport International Ltd. At 17 airports in Spain are in a phase of coordinated strike that will take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 13.

Affected airports include:

  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport.
  • Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat A (MAD)airport (BCN).
  • Reus Airport (REU).
  • Alicante–Elche Miguel Hernandez Airport (ALC).
  • Valencia Airport (VLC).
  • Región de Murcia International Airport (RMU).
  • Malaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP).
  • Almeria Airport (LEI).
  • Salamanca Airport (SLM).
  • Valladolid Airport (VLL).
  • Burgos Airport (RGS).
  • Logrono–Agoncillo Airport (RJL).
  • Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ).
  • Huesca-Pirineos Airport (HSK).
  • Cesar Manrique-Lanzarote Airport (ACE).
  • Gran Canaria Airport (LPA).
  • Tenerife Sur Airport (TFS).

The UK’s top low-cost airlines — EasyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair — did not join the strike action. However, Vueling and other carriers may be affected.

A Swissport spokesperson said: “A comprehensive contingency plan is in place to limit disruption to airline customers and passengers traveling through Spanish airports. while maintaining the stability and soundness of the company, and offering attractive jobs in the Spanish aviation sector.”

British railway strike

When: March 16, 18, 30 and April 1

On March 22, the National Union of Rail, Marine and Transport Workers suspended a planned strike at Network Rail for the above days after reaching a pay agreement with the operator.

While it provides some respite from the onslaught on the rail network over the past year, the strike will continue for RMT members working at 14 other train companies.

They are:

  • Chiltern Railway.
  • Cross-country train.
  • Great Anglia.
  • London North East Railway (LNER).
  • East Midlands Railway.
  • c2c.
  • Great Western Railway (GWR).
  • Northern Train.
  • South East.
  • Southwest Railway.
  • TransPennine Express.
  • West Coast Avanti.
  • West Midlands Train.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway (including Gatwick Express).

So while the strike may not shut down Britain’s entire train system as seen in previous strikes, a large portion of the network could be brought to a standstill during the strike days.

“We will continue our campaign to reach a negotiated solution on all aspects of the rail dispute,” said Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT.

German airport strike

When: In progress

German airport workers have started a wave of strikes this year, disrupting schedules and forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

The most recent strikes on March 26 and 27 resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights at eight major airports across the country, including Frankfurt Airport (FRA), Munich International Airport (MUC) and Airport flying Hamburg (HAM). The German Airports Association said the strike “exceeds all conceivable and justifiable measures”, estimating that some 380,000 airline passengers could be affected.

Lufthansa grounded all of its flights during the strike until the next day, which could happen again if there is further strike action. In a statement at the time, the airline advised travelers not to go to the airport unless they have confirmed a reservation for a flight.

Related: Everything you need to know about travel disruptions in Germany

Frank Werneke, president of Ver.di, a German union, said in an interview with the country’s public broadcaster, Phoenix: “A labor struggle with no impact is pointless.

He admits it will be painful for many commuters and vacationers, “but better than a stressful day with the prospect of a pay agreement than weeks of industrial work.”

As negotiations continue in that dispute, no new strike date has been set. However, it remains a space to watch for anyone who is planning a trip to Germany in 2023.

French air traffic control strikes


When: In progress

These strikes are likely to affect more tourists than any other strike this year. That’s because air traffic control strikes not only affect planes landing or departing in the country where they are occurring, but also planes using that country’s airspace.

In particular, about 65% of EasyJet flights use French airspace to reach their final destination, meaning any of those flights could be disrupted if French air traffic controllers go on strike.

Recent strikes reportedly resulted in 30% of flights being canceled nationwide as French American Tower Corporation workers went on strike from March 6-9, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. .

Related: The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance

Although no date has been set for the summer yet, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in January that France’s ATC strikes risk “shutting everyone down” if the dispute over wages and employment levels extend into the summer.

His comments come as Europe’s air traffic director, Eurocontrol, warned of “major challenges” that could befall the commercial airline network this summer. Citing “the backdrop of supply chain issues, possible industrial action, airspace availability, industry bottlenecks, increased demand, and systemic change.”

It said 2023 “is considered the most challenging year of the past decade. Alleviating summer delays will be an enormous task.”

bottom line

One thing worth remembering when it comes to strikes is that nothing is certain. Maybe unions and employers will reach an agreement.

However, the economic crisis is making it difficult for everyone — from workers grappling with a deepening cost-of-living crisis to travel agencies trying to placate them. shareholders after a raging pandemic. As we prepare for an even busier year than last, the pressures on either side of the fence are unlikely to go away anytime soon.

The likelihood of more strikes this year in the travel sector is high, which could lead to thousands of cancellations and lengthy delays.

Track these dates and plan accordingly.

Related: You’re entitled to a refund for your canceled flight — even if the airline says you won’t get a refund


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