International flights cancelled as Easyjet’s Spain pilots strike again

Fourteen international flights were cancelled Friday as EasyJet’s Spanish pilots began a new three-day work stoppage calling for the reinstatement of conditions they enjoyed before the pandemic, union officials said.

easyjet pilot strike spain
EasyJet's pilot strike began just two weeks after the airline's cabin crew went on strike, resulting in a deal. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Coming at the height of the summer tourist season, the new EasyJet stoppages only add problems to a sector struggling with rolling strikes by cabin crew at budget rival Ryanair that began in June and will continue until January.

Six of the EasyJet cancelations affected flights flying into or out of Barcelona, while the other eight involved arrivals and departures from Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Isles, the SEPLA union said in an update at 1130 GMT.

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“These are international flights to or from Geneva, Milan, Paris, London or Basel,” the union said.

EasyJet pilots began their first three-day strike on August 12th, prompting the cancellation of 36 flights in and out of Barcelona, Malaga and the Balearic Islands.

A third strike is scheduled to take place from August 27th 29th.

The strike began just two weeks after the airline’s cabin crew went on strike, resulting in a deal.

The pilots are demanding the restoration of conditions they enjoyed before the pandemic and the resumption of talks for a new collective agreement.

During the pandemic they had agreed to a pay cut to ensure “not only our jobs but the survival of the company itself in Spain,” the union explained on August 12th, saying EasyJet had refused to restore their pre-COVID working conditions.

The rolling strike by Ryanair staff has so far had a limited impact, involving more delays than flight cancelations.

Cabin crew at Iberia Express, the low-cost arm of Spain’s Iberia national carrier, are also expected to stage a 10-day strike from August 28 to September 6, the USO union has said.

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Spain’s sharp rise in tourists still below pre-pandemic levels

The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain rose exponentially this summer as Covid-19 travel restrictions were lifted but arrivals remained below the level seen before the pandemic, new official figures show.

Spain's sharp rise in tourists still below pre-pandemic levels

Spain, the world’s second most visited country before the pandemic, welcomed 9.1 million foreigners in July, and 8.8 million in August, national statistics institute INE said.

That represents a 106.2 per cent increase in arrivals in July from the same month last year, and a 69.7 per cent jump in August from the same year-ago period, it added.

But the total number of arrivals during the two months –17.9 million – remained lower than the record 20 million seen in 2019 before the pandemic-related travel restrictions ravaged the global tourism industry.

Tourism Minister María Reyes Maroto called the arrival figures for the two peak holiday months “extraordinary”.

“We are facing an autumn without inflation and the uncertainty caused by the war” in Ukraine hurting the sector’s recovery “for now,” she added in a statement.

During the first eight months of the year Spain welcomed 48 million foreign tourists, equivalent to 83 per cent of its pre-pandemic level.

The largest number of visitors during the period were British, accounting for more than 10 million arrivals, followed by French, who made up seven million visits, and Germans, who accounted for 2.3 million.

In the same period, the most popular destinations were the northeastern region of Catalonia, the Balearic Isles, the Canary Islands and Andalusia in the south, the INE said.

Spain in 2019 hit a record for the seventh year in a row, welcoming a total of 83.5 million foreign tourists. Only France received more that year.

The number of foreign visitors plunged to 19 million the following year due to the pandemic.

Last year only 31.1 million foreigners visited Spain, well below the 45 million expected by the government.

Tourism accounts for some 12 per cent of Spain’s gross domestic output and the drop in arrivals hit the economy, the eurozone’s fourth largest, hard.