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Six-day French air traffic controllers’ strike
Jun 24th, 2014 by elisa

Delays and cancellations are expected from today as French air traffic controllers begin a six-day strike. 

The strike over budget cuts is not as large as first feared, as one of the two unions that announced the action backed out at the last minute. However, flights to and from France, and also many flights that travel across French airspace will still be cancelled or delayed.

Eurocontrol, a European air safety organisation, estimated almost 14,000 hours of delays over the strike period. A similar walk out last year led to the cancellation of around 1,800 flights a day across Europe.

Ryanair has cancelled 26 flights to and from France, and British Airways has cancelled three return flights from Heathrow to Toulouse, Marseille and Lyon. Easyjet has cancelled 28 flights, but none of these are from UK airports.

Airlines have said that they will update customers daily on further cancellations.

BA said: “The level of disruption is likely to fluctuate in different parts of France at different parts of each day.

“Unfortunately this industrial action is also highly likely to lead to delays on other short-haul services which have to overfly France.”

“We expect to receive information from the French authorities the day before each strike event as to the levels of mandated cancellations for all airlines on each route.

“We aim to publish our revised schedules by 1400 GMT each day for the following day’s flights.”

Advice for travellers affected by the strikes

  • If your airline cancels your flight you are eligible for a refund. You are not, however, eligible for additional compensation from the airline as it is not directly responsible for the cause of cancellation.
  • If you are left stranded abroad (in the EU) as a result of the cancellation of your flight, then the airline are required to pay for accommodation and subsistence until another flight is available to take you home.
  • Travel insurance may pay out small amounts for long delays, but not always for subsequent losses such as hotel bookings. Check your documentation carefully to see what you are entitled to.

A statement on the Easyjet website said: “For cancelled flights, all our customers will be offered a free of charge transfer to a new flight or a full refund.

“We strongly advise customers who wish to travel and want to rebook Easyjet flights to AVOID rebooking flights for any day between 24th-30th June as there is a high likelihood of further disruption that could cause further cancellations.”

Ryanair has urged the French Government and European Union to intervene, calling for the air traffic controllers’ right to strike to be removed and in the meantime to allow neighbouring air traffic providers to keep the skies over France open over the strike period.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said: “It is high time the EU Commission removed these air traffic controllers’ right to strike, in the same way as ATC in the US, and many of Europe’s armies and police forces, are prohibited from striking by law, to stop Europe being held to ransom by a small number of air traffic controllers every summer.”

 

Passport delays threaten summer travel
Jun 9th, 2014 by elisa

Thousands of holidaymakers could miss out on their summer holidays because delays at the Passport Office mean they won’t receive their passports on time. 

The Telegraph reports that some new applications are taking as much as two months to process, leading to fears that the backlog could worsen as the holiday season approaches.

According to some estimates, the backlog has already reached half a million and staff from other departments have now been drafted in to help cope with demand. Unions claim that staff are being forced to “paper over the cracks” by working overtime, and they may be forced to take industrial action unless urgent measures are taken to improve the situation.

Labour’s shadow immigration minister, David Hanson, said the party’s MPs have been “inundated” with complaints from constituents struggling to get their passports in time for holidays, despite applying three weeks in advance as recommended. Mr Hanson said 75 Labour MPs had reported more than 370 complaints, the majority concerning the office in Durham, which processes passport applications for children and people who have changed their names.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union said staff are frustrated that they’re unable to provide the level of service that the public expects from the passport office.

The Passport Office denies the extent of the backlog, claiming 97% of straightforward renewals and child applications are being processed in the three week turnaround. It puts the “exceptional early summer demand” down to the improving economy and a rise in holiday bookings.

The guidance on turnaround times are three weeks for straightforward renewals and child passports and six weeks for new adult passports.

Heathrow rail service strike 4th June
May 30th, 2014 by elisa

A 24 hour strike on the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services has been announced for 4th June.

Rail union RMT has instructed all Heathrow Express members to take strike action from 03.00 hours on Wednesday June 4, 2014 until 02.59 hours on Thursday June 5, 2014 in response to an ongoing dispute over cuts.

The union claims 201 jobs are now under threat of redundancy because of the rail service’s plans to re-organise its workforce in order to save £6 million over the next five years.

It says the attack on jobs and working conditions are a result of the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to cut £600 million from Heathrow Airport’s budget over the same period.

Tube strike 2014: causes chaos for passengers to airports
Apr 29th, 2014 by elisa

A 48 hour tube strike means passengers are struggling to get to London airports from today.

In addition to the Tube services, Heathrow said that its Heathrow Express and Connect overland services to and from the airport are also being disrupted.

A statement on the website said: “Due to the planned London Underground strikes, our trains are likely to be busier than usual so please allow more time for your journey.”

The Piccadilly Line is only operating between Acton Town and the Heathrow’s Terminals 1,2 and 3 and there is no Heathrow Connect service.

National Express is operating additional services between Heathrow and Victoria coach station during the strike period, however the coach operator has warned that some services may be subject to delays due to the impact of the strike.

All train services on the Gatwick Express are currently running normally, as are railways services to London City, however passengers are advised to leave extra time for their journeys.

The RMT union is striking over London Underground’s plans to close ticket offices and cut 960 jobs. It has warned that if the dispute is not resolved, then a second 72-hour strike, is planned to begin at 9pm on 5th May.

Holiday insurance wish list
Apr 9th, 2014 by elisa

Don’t you wish your travel insurance would cover real holiday-spoilers such as inedible hotel food, rude hotel staff and bad weather? If so, then you’re not alone. 

According to a survey by comparison website Gocompare.com Travel Insurance, over a third of travellers wish they could buy insurance against inedible hotel food.

The website asked 1,300 travellers about the things they wish they could insure against, that aren’t covered by typical travel insurance policies. Top of the wish list is delayed departures, on flights, ferries or trains. Currently many policies do provide some cover for delayed departures, but only to cover additional costs of being stuck in the airport for hours, not to compensate for lost holiday time.

Caroline Lloyd from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance said: “For many people, their holiday is not only a chance to relax away from the everyday pressures of life, it’s a big financial commitment they have spent months, if not years, saving for. So it’s not surprising that they want the perfect getaway with no delays, top-notch food and accommodation – not an encounter with Basil Fawlty.

“While our survey takes a light-hearted look at the holiday-horrors people wish they could insure against, it gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of travel insurance in protecting holidaymakers against the unexpected – from freak weather, illness or injury, or theft or loss of baggage.”

Results of the survey:

Rank  Insurance wish list %
1 Delayed departure (flights, ferries, trains, etc.) 51
2 Disappointing accommodation 44
3 Misleading brochure description of hotel and/or holiday resort 44
4 Inedible hotel food 34
5 Bad weather 31
6 A noisy room 22
7 Being plagued by drunken teenagers in the evening 18
8 Rude hotel/accommodation staff 15
9 Annoying fellow guests 12
10 Terrible organised entertainment 7
European air traffic control strikes affect flights today and tomorrow
Jan 29th, 2014 by elisa

Air traffic control strikes in Europe will affect flights today and tomorrow.

Passengers flying to Milan, Rome, Venice and Lisbon will be particularly badly affected, with many services cancelled.

Airlines worst affected are British Airways, Alitalia and Ryanair. Easyjet said is has re-scheduled some flights to avoid the strike times, but there might still be an impact due to the knock-on effect of the industrial action across networks.

Ryanair has cancelled some flights from Gatwick to Cagliari, and Stansted to Bari, and warned of possible delays to other services.

Italian air traffic controllers are on strike from 13:00 until 17:00 local time; Portuguese controllers are on strike from 07:00 to 09:00 and from 14:00 to 16:00 local time.

 

French air traffic controllers will walk out later today until the early hours of Friday morning. Easyjet has had to cancel a small number of flights to Paris because it said all airlines operating to and from Paris airports had been requested to reduce flights by 20%.

 

Europe-wide air traffic control strike
Jan 21st, 2014 by elisa

A Europe-wide air traffic control strike is planned for next Wednesday, which could lead to widespread flight disruption. 

The industrial action is in protest to the planned safety and savings targets of the European Commission’s Single European Sky initiative, which aims to consolidate air traffic control services across the continent.

Two organisations are staging the strikes: The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC), which represents 14,000 flight overseers across 28 countries will strike on 29th January, and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) will walk out on 30th January.

Germany’s air traffic controllers are planning to strike for one hour on 29th January, in a show of support for the expected Europe-wide strike. In the UK, NATS will work as normal despite the strikes.

In a report on Air Traffic Management.net NATS chief executive, Richard Deakin, said: “NATS controllers will be working as usual in spite of the threat of industrial action in Europe. If the strikes go ahead we will work closely, as ever, with Eurocontrol and other European air navigation services to help keep people moving whenever possible.”

“We will also work with our airline and airport customers to help them manage their operations should any changes be necessary.

“Any passengers who are worried they might be affected should check with their airlines for the latest information.”

The European Commission says the Single European Sky programme will triple the region’s airspace capacity, cut costs and reduce delays.

Urgent talks to prevent airport worker strikes
Oct 15th, 2013 by elisa

Urgent talks to prevent strike action by baggage handlers and check-in staff at some of the UK’s busiest airports are to take place tomorrow.

Swissport workers based at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester airports voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay. Unite the union said that 94% of workers balloted voted in favour of the action.

“In the light of this overwhelming mandate for action Swissport has requested talks which we are happy to attend so we can try to resolve this matter,” said Unite national officer Oliver Richardson.

“The dispute centres on the company’s decision to freeze workers pay for 18 months, from April 2012 through to October 2013, followed by a below inflation increase of just 2.5%.

“Our members are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living and Unite believes Swissport is failing to recognise the contribution its staff are making to the success of the company.

“We hope that over the coming days we will be able to thrash out a deal with the company but this will depend on whether the company is prepared to move on from its current position on pay.”

 

French strikes today
Sep 10th, 2013 by elisa

Travel to and around France could be disrupted today as French public sector workers go on strike.

The strike is due to last until 08.00 local time on Wednesday. The Foreign Office advises travellers to France to check with their airlines and tour operators for information on delays before they leave.

Eurostar said in a statement: “Eurostar services are not affected and are expected to run as normal.

“Eurostar customers making a connecting journey and who are impacted by the industrial action have the option of exchanging their tickets for an alternative date.”

Easyjet warned of possible disruption to services, but that it would be unlikely to encounter major problems.

The airline said in a statement: “While details still remain unclear, the risk of disruption to Easyjet services is expected to be relatively low”.

“There also remains some risk of delay to our services that over-fly French airspace during September 10.”

In France, most TGV services will run as normal but some regional trains may be affected.

 

Iberia strike dates announced
Feb 8th, 2013 by elisa

15 days of strike action by staff at Iberia have been announced over February and March.

The ground staff and cabin crews of the Spanish airline will go on strike from 18th-22nd February, 4th-8th, and 18th-22nd March. The industrial action is in protest against the company’s plans to lay off 23% of its workforce, equating to 4,500 employees.

A week of strikes in December were called off in order for negotiations between the unions and airline to take place, however these ended without an agreement.

Gabriel Mocho, civil aviation secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation blamed Willie Walsh, chief executive of Iberia parent company IAG, for the breakdown in the talks.

“The fingerprints of Willie Walsh are visible in the breakdown in talks that led to this declaration.,” he said. “Orders from above have clearly denied Iberia the freedom to achieve a joint negotiated plan with unions to secure a profitable future for the airline.”

IAG has said previously that the job cuts are necessary for the airline’s survival.

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