Ryanair strike in Spain: Cancellations could continue until January

A cabin crew strike at Ryanair in Spain, which began in June causing hundreds of flight cancellations and delays, will continue until January 2023 with regular 24-hour work stoppages, two workers' unions said Wednesday.

Ryanair strike in Spain: Cancellations could continue until January
Ryanair employees hold flyers reading "Support our strike" as they protest at the Terminal 2 of El Prat airport in Barcelona on July 1st 2022. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

The series of rolling strikes over pay and working conditions at Ryanair in Spain – where there are some 1,900 employees — began on June 24th as European schools started breaking for the summer.

There were initially six days of planned strikes, called by the USO and SITCPLA unions, but they decided earlier this month to extend the strike until July 28.

The stoppages affect 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair has bases.

“Ryanair has not made the slightest attempt to reconcile with the unions” and “having publicly demonstrated its refusal to engage in any dialogue”, the USO and SITCPLA “are forced to extend” the strike, the unions said.

Another 24-hour strike is planned during the week starting August 8th.

Similar actions will take place “until January 7th”, a period of five months, the unions said in a statement.

The Spanish strikes are one of a series of similar walkouts in other European countries, at a time when the aviation sector hoped to move on from the Covid pandemic.

Hundreds of flights have been delayed and cancelled.

READ MORE: Ryanair strike – Which flights to and from Spain have been cancelled?

Ryanair has insisted the action has had little impact on the company’s activity in Spain. The Irish airline claims to carry the largest number of passengers in the Spanish market with more than 650 routes in the country.

Ryanair is the only international company in Spain not to have a collective agreement, the unions say.

Negotiations on working conditions with staff began eight months ago.

Discussions ended with an agreement with the CCOO union, which represents a smaller number of workers. USO and SITCPLA rejected the deal, judging it to be insufficient to meet staff’s needs.

In addition to better working conditions, the unions demand the return to work of 11 striking employees dismissed in the last month.

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Spain’s sharp rise in tourists still below pre-pandemic levels

The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain rose exponentially this summer as Covid-19 travel restrictions were lifted but arrivals remained below the level seen before the pandemic, new official figures show.

Spain's sharp rise in tourists still below pre-pandemic levels

Spain, the world’s second most visited country before the pandemic, welcomed 9.1 million foreigners in July, and 8.8 million in August, national statistics institute INE said.

That represents a 106.2 per cent increase in arrivals in July from the same month last year, and a 69.7 per cent jump in August from the same year-ago period, it added.

But the total number of arrivals during the two months –17.9 million – remained lower than the record 20 million seen in 2019 before the pandemic-related travel restrictions ravaged the global tourism industry.

Tourism Minister María Reyes Maroto called the arrival figures for the two peak holiday months “extraordinary”.

“We are facing an autumn without inflation and the uncertainty caused by the war” in Ukraine hurting the sector’s recovery “for now,” she added in a statement.

During the first eight months of the year Spain welcomed 48 million foreign tourists, equivalent to 83 per cent of its pre-pandemic level.

The largest number of visitors during the period were British, accounting for more than 10 million arrivals, followed by French, who made up seven million visits, and Germans, who accounted for 2.3 million.

In the same period, the most popular destinations were the northeastern region of Catalonia, the Balearic Isles, the Canary Islands and Andalusia in the south, the INE said.

Spain in 2019 hit a record for the seventh year in a row, welcoming a total of 83.5 million foreign tourists. Only France received more that year.

The number of foreign visitors plunged to 19 million the following year due to the pandemic.

Last year only 31.1 million foreigners visited Spain, well below the 45 million expected by the government.

Tourism accounts for some 12 per cent of Spain’s gross domestic output and the drop in arrivals hit the economy, the eurozone’s fourth largest, hard.