Sky­cop: air­line strikes pick­ing up in strength; losses reach six bil­lion

Baltic News Network - - Front Page -

Com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, 2018 so far has not been successful. Fuel prices have in­crease, as have em­ployee strikes, which con­tinue cre­at­ing se­ri­ous prob­lems for Euro­pean air­lines, as BNN was in­formed by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of flight com­pen­sa­tion re­quest pro­cess­ing com­pany Sky­cop.

The com­pany re­ports that Euro­pean Or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Safety of Air Nav­i­ga­tion, or Euro­con­trol, CEO Ea­monn Bren­nan has men­tioned that the large num­ber of air­line em­ployee strikes has sig­nif­i­cantly im­pacted flight ar­rival ac­cu­racy. Data com­piled for April de­tails spe­cific strikes that had a ma­jor im­pact on the ac­cu­racy of air­line op­er­a­tions.

«Al­though 2017 was a chal­leng­ing year for the avi­a­tion industry, it is still con­sid­ered a successful year, be­cause the industry had ex­pe­ri­enced the most rapid pas­sen­ger turnover in­crease since 2004. Based on data from ACI Europe, the num­ber of trav­ellers has grown 8.5% over the course of the year. The big­gest prob­lems, on the other hand were caused by short­age of pi­lots and con­sol­i­da­tion of Euro­pean air­lines. Con­tin­ued in­crease of air pas­sen­ger num­bers is ex­pected this year, as well. How­ever, top­i­cal prob­lems with air­line op­er­a­tions and con­tin­u­ing strikes make it hard to be­lieve air­lines will be able to meet the growing de­mand,» Sky­cop rep­re­sen­ta­tives say.

The largest num­ber of strikes took place in Fe­bru­ary. In ma­jor­ity of those cases, par­tic­i­pants were from Ital­ian and French air­lines. Sky­cop notes that Air France has suf­fered four­teen strikes so far. As a re­sult, share value has dropped 9.7% and the com­pany has suf­fered losses worth more than EUR 300 mil­lion. In Italy, there have been three strikes in to­tal this year. All of them had a ma­jor im­pact on air­line op­er­a­tions, caus­ing many flights to be de­layed or can­celled. The most of­ten rea­son for labourer strikes is air­line man­age­ment’s re­fusal to raise wages. All em­ploy­ees – flight crew and flight con­trol crew – op­pose this in­jus­tice. Al­though air­lines’ prof­its in­crease, em­ploy­ees’ wages do not in­crease at the same time. Be­cause of that, em­ploy­ees turn to trade unions for help, Sky­cop ex­plains. «The data shows that strikes cre­ate in­con­ve­niences for more than 1.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers ev­ery year. Un­for­tu­nately, Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion does not pro­tect pas­sen­gers from the risk of strikes,» says Sky­cop CEO Mar­jus Stonkus.

De­layed and can­celled flights cre­ate the most prob­lems dur­ing the sum­mer sea­son. Trade unions that rep­re­sent Ryanair flight and main­te­nance crews in Spain, Por­tu­gal, Bel­gium and Italy have al­ready an­nounced that if air­lines’ op­er­a­tions and treat­ment of their em­ploy­ees do not im­prove, strikes will be or­ga­nized dur­ing the hottest tourist sea­son – sum­mer, Sky­cop warns.

Strikes cre­ate prob­lems first and fore­most for air­line pas­sen­gers. Sky­cop rep­re­sen­ta­tives are con­fi­dent that un­der cur­rent leg­is­la­tion that gov­erns pas­sen­gers’ rights are out­dated and in need of im­prove­ments: «We have been mon­i­tor­ing and analysing the sit­u­a­tion in the industry for sev­eral months. We urge all pas­sen­gers to voice their opin­ions about the ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion, men­tion its flaws by sign­ing a pe­ti­tion on Avaaz in­ter­net plat­form,» adds Stonkus. The pe­ti­tion along with all sig­na­tures will be sent to EU au­thor­i­ties, ask­ing them to re­view and set strikes of labour­ers an cir­cum­stance un­der which pas­sen­gers whose flights have been de­layed or can­celled be­cause of strikes would be­come el­i­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion.

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