This Friday, the announced strike movement at Ryanair it will affect Charleroi and Brussels airports. This combined with a strike by pilots and cabin crew at Brussels Airlinesand the next few hours promise to be chaotic for travelers, all while Brussels airport was barely recovering from Monday’s strikethat had turned the week’s program upside down.
On a practical level, Brussels Airlines announced this week – the strike has already started this Thursday – the cancellation of “approximately 40% of the initial flight schedule. The cancellations represent approximately 315 flights, including 38 long-haul, and affect nearly 40,000 passengers.”, detailed Brussels Airlines in a press release. “Affected passengers have been notified and offered an alternative. If they prefer not to travel, they can be offered a full refund”, also explains Maaike Andries, spokesperson for the company.
Relatively clear and quick communication given the circumstances, and the same cannot be said for Ryanair. “Rather than warn its customers, Ryanair has started removing flights from its schedule. In fact, all Friday and Saturday flights are canceled and there is no way to book a whole series of flights on their website.explains Didier Lebbe, permanent secretary of the CNE. In my opinion, they are also going to cancel most of the flights on Sundays, but it is not clear. Some customers receive cancellation notices, but flights are still held at airports. We are talking about 30,000 people potentially affected. The problem is that those who have a canceled flight this Friday were only notified as of Wednesday, and that many people who leave on Sunday still have not heard from the company… They are doing the same as the previous times.”
Canceled flight: what solutions?
A situation that does not allow many travelers to organize themselves to find an alternative, while those who are warned are offered a return or replacement at no cost on another flight. An apology email that also contains the following sentence: “your flight has been canceled due to an unnecessary strike by a Belgian union”.
“And as added compensation, it will still be an obstacle course for passengers. I remind you that some are still in court for the 2018 strikes! It is typical of Ryanair, we go through the court and not through a negotiation”, continues Didier Lebbe.
This should herald a good atmosphere in the upcoming meetings between the unions and the management. As a reminder, these strike movements, both at Ryanair and Brussels Airlines, had been announced for several weeks. Pilots, stewardesses and hostesses are protesting in particular against the new working conditions imposed since the health crisis: more flights, less rest and, in the case of Ryanair, a 20% drop in wages since the start of the health crisis. which is maintained as activity resumes.
Even in Ryanair, Belgium is not the only country concerned, since we are talking about a coordinated European action between the European Unions. Thus, the movements have taken place (or will take place) in Spain (June 24 to July 2), Portugal (June 24 to 26), France (June 25 and 26) and Italy (June 25). Enough to announce a big mess for travelers who have to return to Belgium in the next few days. “This is an emblematic strike movement for all of Europe and all companies.Didier Lebbe argues. If we experience such working conditions it is because Ryanair is almighty and others are copying to upgrade and continue to exist. Therefore, this strike must affect the entire sector, it is essential to change things! European skies have been ultra-liberalised, and that is where we end up when we go too far.”
A joint action that will also prevent Ryanair’s management from sending foreign crews to Belgium to fly the planes on the ground. “If we see foreign pilots and cabin crew disembarking in Brussels or Charleroi, we will notify the labor inspectorate”, Lance Didier Lebbe.
And for the next few weeks? “It is up to the companies to negotiate with us again, but the ghost CEO of Brussels Airlines has not yet shown any signs of life. And on the Ryanair side, O’Leary will really have to put an end to the insulting speeches from him…”