Here’s when European airports and trains are set to strike this summer
The summer travel season is upon us. We hope your travel will be trouble-free, but there are a number of strikes to look out for across Europe that particularly affect the travel sector.
If you are traveling on these dates and need further advice, read our guide to insurance policies and strike coverage. Additionally, find out what you may be entitled to by way of compensation if your flight is delayed or otherwise affected.
Here are the strikes in Europe to look out for when you book summer travel.
UK rail strikes
When: To be determined
No rail strikes are currently scheduled. However, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Britain's trade union for rail workers, is re-balloting its members on whether to take further strike action. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers plans to continue its spree of strikes for an additional six months.
We expect these strikes to be announced in the coming weeks or months, and it's likely they'll occur before the end of summer. Commuters will receive at least 14 days' notice ahead of any planned walkouts, and we'll keep you updated.
Heathrow Airport strikes
When: June 24-25 and 28-30; July 14-16, 21-24 and 28-31; Aug. 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 and 24-27.
Security officers working at terminals 3 and 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) who are Unite union members will strike on these dates over pay disputes. The strikes will take place almost every weekend this summer. Plan for the worst and expect serious disruption.
Related: Heathrow staff will strike almost every weekend this summer — here’s how to navigate the chaos
Heathrow’s website informs passengers that, while the airport will remain open on strike days, “the strike action may cause disruption to the travel plans of some passengers during this period.”
It recommends checking your flight status with your airline for the latest information, adding: “On strike days, passengers will only be allowed to bring two items of hand baggage (carry-on baggage) through security. Handbags and laptop bags count as a piece of hand baggage. Your checked-in luggage allowance remains as advertised by your airline.”
France air traffic control strikes
When: Ongoing, dates to be announced.
These strikes could potentially affect more travelers than any other because air traffic control strikes affect planes landing in and departing from the country where they’re happening and using its airspace.
In particular, around 65% of EasyJet flights use France’s airspace to reach their final destination, meaning any of those could be disrupted if French air traffic controllers strike.
Recent walkouts reportedly led to 30% of flights being canceled across the country when French American Tower Corporation workers walked out March 6-9, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.
Related: The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance
No dates are set for the summer yet. However, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in January that the French ATC strikes risked “shutting everybody down” if the dispute over pay and recruitment levels bleeds into summer.
His comments came as Eurocontrol, Europe’s air traffic safety organization, warned of potentially “huge challenges” to the commercial aviation network this summer, citing “a backdrop of supply chain issues, possible industrial action, airspace unavailability, sector bottlenecks, rising demand and system changes.”
The organization said 2023 is “set to be the most challenging year of the last decade. Keeping summer delays down will be an immense task.”
One thing worth remembering when it comes to strikes is that nothing is certain. It’s possible that unions and employers will reach a deal.
However, the economic crisis is making things difficult for everyone — from workers struggling through the deepening cost-of-living crisis to travel companies desperate to appease shareholders during a ravaging pandemic. As we gear up for an even busier year than last year, those pressures on both sides of the fence seem unlikely to evaporate anytime soon.
The chances of more strikes this year are high across the travel sector, which could result in thousands of cancellations and lengthy delays.
Keep an eye on these dates, and plan accordingly.
Related: You are entitled to a refund for your canceled flight — even if the airline says you aren’t
Additional reporting by Matt Blake.