Spanish, French Aviation Workers Extend Strike Actions

It may seem too much to ask for a summer without travel chaos, but European travelers' plans are set to be disrupted once more this month.



June 6, 2023

DALLAS — It may seem too much to ask for a summer without travel chaos, but European travelers' plans are set to be disrupted once more this month, with airline workers in both France and Spain upping the ante with more June strikes.

As negotiations around Spanish Airline Pilots Union (Sepla) collective agreement come to a standstill, the union has announced that the Air Nostrum (YW) pilot strike will increase to seven days a week starting today, June 6.

Meanwhile, in neighboring France, the general airport staff strikes against the proposed pension reforms enter their 14th day, with a fresh wave of cancellations and delays expected to hit seven airports today.

One in five flights at Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Bordeaux, and Nantes will be canceled, while a third of the flights will be axed at Paris-Orly Aiport (ORY), according to the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC).

The French aviation authority warned that the strikes in France would continue into next week and that dozens more routes would be affected between Monday and Wednesday.

Air Nostrum/Iberia Regional Bombardier CRJ-1000ER (EC-LJS). Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Details on the Air Nostrum Strike

Air Nostrum staff have been staging partial industrial action every Monday and Friday since February 27th. The strike and its extension respond to the airline's refusal to enhance the pilots' salary conditions. Sepla justified its decision based on the company's "inaction" and refusal to address the labor conflict, disregarding the workers' valid labor and wage demands.

The Valencian carrier offered a 13% salary increase over the next three years and a further conditional 3% for co-pilots, potentially reaching a total increase of 16%. For commanders, the offer included a consolidated increase of 10% and a non-consolidated increase of 3%, totaling 13% in all. Sepla rejected the proposal, expressing dissatisfaction with the "excessive" minimum services imposed by the government, which they believe infringe upon the right to strike.

Air Nostrum expressed its disappointment regarding the intensification of the strike, stating that it proposed external arbitration during the meeting on May 26 as an attempt to resolve the conflict between both parties. However, union representatives declined the offer of mediation.

The union highlighted last week that the pilots had received support from the Prosecutor's Office of the National Court in challenging the established minimum services.

Air Europa (EC-MHL) Airbus A330-343. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

Europe Aviation on Strike

Air Nostrum and the aforementioned French airports join Air Europa (UX) in its strike woes. The airline dealt with a second round of pilot strikes last week, with a total of eight strikes occurring between May 22 and June 2.

The last day of the UX pilot protest led to several flights cancellations, including round-trip routes connecting Madrid with Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca, Rome (Fiumicino), Milan (Malpensa), Paris-Orly, as well as a round-trip between Barcelona and the Balearic capital.

Throughout the eight days of strikes, a total of 114 flights were canceled by UX. These strike actions, also organized by the Sepla union, come on the heels of four strikes that took place over last month's long weekend, which resulted in the cancellation of 68 flights.

The impact of the UX strikes was felt on both domestic routes, such as Madrid to La Coruña or Vigo, and international routes, including Madrid to Oporto.

This is a developing story.

Feature Image: EC-MTI Air Europa Boeing 787-9 MAD LEMD. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways