Europe Hit By Wave Of Air Traffic Controller Strikes

The French air traffic controller union is on strike and will soon be followed by those of nine other European nations, the BBC reports.

The strike is being launched in protest against European Union plans to form regional blocs for air traffic control. It says this will be more efficient than the current national system and will reduce flight distances. The unions say it reduces national sovereignty and is a step towards privatization. They also say it would adversely affect their working conditions and flight safety.

Flights to and from France are already being affected, with easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Lufthansa the hardest hit. Tomorrow, air traffic controllers in the following countries will go on strike: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Slovakia.

France will remain on strike tomorrow. RTÉ News reports that France’s civil aviation authority has requested that airlines cancel half their scheduled flights to Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseilles, Toulouse and Bordeaux.

UPDATE: While it was widely reported in the international press that UK air traffic controllers would go on strike today, June 12, Gadling was contacted by NATS, the UK’s air navigation service provider, that they will not be going on strike. They have clarified their position in a press release.

Brittany Ferries Strike Affects Travel, Business In Three Countries

A strike by the employees of Brittany Ferries is disrupting the movement of travelers and goods between England, France and Spain.

The BBC reports the French union that staffs the ferry service is striking in protest of cuts by the company, which is deeply in the red. Brittany Ferries operates several lines from England to various ports in northern France and Spain. In addition to travelers using the service to bring their cars across the water, about 3,000 commercial trucks use the service.

In a press release, the company stated that because of repeated wildcat strikes, they’ve made the decision to suspend almost all service: “The only route which will be unaffected is the Poole-Cherbourg passenger service which is operated on our behalf by Condor Ferries … Because of this indefinite stoppage we are recommending customers to travel to Dover where we currently have special arrangements in place with P&O Ferries and MyFerryLink to accept Brittany Ferries tickets [see website for details]. Unused Brittany Ferries crossings will be refunded.”

One of Brittany Ferries’ destinations is Santander in Spain, where I live part time. Port fees, customers using local businesses, and the shipment of goods all bring an injection of much-needed money into an economy in recession. Local paper El Diario Montañes reports that the ship Cap Finistère has been stuck here since September 20, with 500 passengers and 100 vehicles. Most have made their way to other ferries in France.

[Photo of the Cap Finistère courtesy George Hutchinson]

Strike to cause delays at UK ports and airports tomorrow

A massive public sector strike planned for tomorrow in the UK will slow down travel in ports and airports.

An estimated 750,000 public sector workers will go on a one-day strike in protest over proposed changes to pensions, and this will include thousands of customs and immigration officials. UK ports and airports will remain open but passengers should expect delays.

Most schools and many other government buildings will be closed tomorrow. Strike organizers complain that the new public sector pension scheme will make employees work longer, put more money into the system, but get less when they retire.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Delta to flight attendants: come back!

Delta’s looking for 1,000 flight attendants, some of whom will be furloughed workers recalled for international assignments. Some will be new hires. But, it’s going to take some time get them in the door: they’ll be working the aisles by the middle of 2011. In particular, the airline is looking for flight attendants fluent in Japanese and Mandarin, which narrows the field a bit.

Delta already has 20,000 flight attendant, and they are currently in the process of deciding whether to be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants union.

The hiring at Delta follows a similar move by American Airlines, which is recalling close to 800 flight attendants who were furloughed and pilots to help accommodate network expansion internationally.

So, those baggage fees are paying off for a few people!

[photo by Augapfel via Flickr]

BA flights attendants trash good wine in protest

According to the UK’s Telegraph, the latest casualty of the problems between British Airways’ cabin crews and the company is vintage wine. Those involved in the alcohol abuse were members of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa), which is part of the union that represents the airline’s 13,000 cabin crew. They say they destroyed the wine as a symbol of “passive resistance” against some of the new practices that British Airways has instituted.

The unhappy employees had planned on striking over the Christmas holiday, but thankfully, the strike was blocked by a judge.

Apparently, the flap all started when BA introduced some new cost cutting measures – which included firing hundreds of employees and freezing pay for current workers. As a result, the “disaffected” workers have stopped any of their own money-saving efforts onboard the airplanes. One worker was quoted in the Telegraph article as saying that “No-one is doing anything to help save costs any more. Whereas we used to keep unfinished bottles of wine in first-class to save money, now they’re routinely poured down the sink.”

Let’s hope the union and British Airways can resolve their issues soon. I hate to see good wine go to waste.%Gallery-76818%