More travel chaos looming as Ryanair’s Spain staff set to strike

Spanish unions called on staff at low-cost airline Ryanair on Monday to hold a six-day strike at the start of the summer holidays, the latest action by aviation industry workers to demand better conditions in Europe.

spain ryanair strike
The strike would come as summer holidays get underway in Spain and other European countries. (Photo by Andreas Arnold / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT

The planned work stoppage could cause more travel headaches in Europe, where strikes and shortages of staff have hit a sector that has started to recover from the Covid pandemic.

The call for flight crew to walk out from June 24th to July 2nd aims to push Ireland’s Ryanair to reach a deal that “guarantees decent work conditions for all personnel” at the airline, the USO and SITCPLA unions said in a joint statement.

Ryanair is the only international airline that does not have a collective bargaining agreement that defines workplace conditions for its Spanish employees, according to the trade unions.

It finally agreed to negotiate with trade unions eight months ago, but ended talks after reaching a deal, which includes minimum pay and flight hours previsions, with one union that does not have a majority among flight crew.

Both the USO and SITCPLA unions believe that the agreement is insufficient and doesn’t respect Spanish labour law.

The strike would come as summer holidays get underway in European countries and a recovery in air travel following the lifting of most Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The boom in demand has caught short some airlines and airports that shed staff during the pandemic and which are having trouble rehiring employees as well as facing demands for wage hikes and better working conditions.

Staff shortages have disrupted flights in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt in recent weeks.

Strikes at Paris’s main airport on Thursday led to a quarter of flights being grounded, runways closed and passengers delayed

Nearly 1,000 SAS pilots have threatened to go on indefinite strike from the end of June after talks broke down with the Scandinavian airline.

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EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.