The Spanish budget airline Vueling cancelled 54 flights on November 1st as its cabin crew began industrial action that will last into the New Year.
Despite this, 466 flights scheduled operated “without incident” and with a punctuality of 86.68 percent, according to the company.
Barcelona’s El Prat Airport, where Vueling has its main base, was the most affected by the stoppages. But the low-cost airline still reportedly managed to operate 90 percent of its Vueling flights to and from the Catalan capital on Monday.
The Vueling cabin crew walkout comes amid a long summer of strike action in the Spanish aviation sector, including walkouts by Ryanair and Iberia Express staff.
Stoppages will take place every Friday, Sunday and Monday until January 31st, 2023, as well as November 1st, the first day of strikes, but also December 6th, 8th, 24th and 31st and January 5th – dates chosen because they are long weekends or key travel days for the Christmas period.
Spain’s Ministry of Transport estimates that up to 3.2 million passengers, equal to 70,500 a day, could be affected by industrial action, although it has established minimum service decrees for the airline, as it often does during industrial disputes. These range between 22 percent and 80 percent, depending on the route and frequency of the flight path.
The low-cost airline has made buses available to passengers for them to complete their journey on the road, but the vast majority have preferred to be booked on alternative flights.
As was the case with cabin crew walkouts at Ryanair and Iberia Express over the summer, the dispute largely centres around pay but also involves conditions.
Vueling staff are demanding a wage rise in line with inflation. The union representing the workers, Stavla (Airline Flight Auxiliary Crew Union), have requested wage increases of 13.4 percent after Vueling only offered a two percent rise.
Vueling did reach an agreement with the Workers’ Commissions Union (CC.OO) in August to increase wages by 6.5 percent, but Stavla rejected the deal and demanded a higher salary increase.
Staff are also protesting the precarious work conditions that have been experienced within the sector since before the pandemic.
The airline is still suffering from losses of €1 billion incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to an increase in debt of €260 million to cover the impact of Covid-19 on its business. Vueling did reach an agreement with the Workers’ Commissions Union (CC.OO) in August to raise salaries by 6.5 percent, but Stavla refused to sign and now wants an even higher salary increase.
Currently, Vueling is not backing down or giving in to the workers’ demands. They describe the requests as “unfeasible” and are criticising the workers for going on strike.
Unless a pay deal is reached between Stavla and Vueling, strike action is schedule for every Friday, Sunday and Monday until January 31st, 2023.
Note that there are also extra strike dates on December 6th, 8th, 24th and 31st and January 5th.