Mass airline strikes planned for Christmas and New Year

Airline walkouts across Europe are set to impact travel over the festive period. Here’s an up-to-date list of the planned strikes that travellers should be aware of.  

The holiday season is getting underway and millions of travellers throughout Europe are excitedly preparing to fly and reconnect with loved ones to celebrate; predictions indicate this will be the busiest holiday period since the Covid pandemic. 

However, a swathe of planned airline strikes are set to take place during the months of December and January, and travellers are becoming understandably nervous about whether or not their flights and Christmas plans will be affected.  

The soaring cost-of-living, an energy crisis, painfully high inflation, post-pandemic pay cuts… The conditions are ripe for discontent and following months of continued travel disruption and chaos, Europe’s airline industry is under increasing pressure from unions to raise wages and improve working conditions for staff. It is a situation now at breaking point.  

While there has been some progress in negotiations between airlines and staff, there still remains a significant number of threatened strikes set to take place over the coming weeks across Europe:

Air France, France – Air France has given notice of a strike to take place from Thursday 22nd December until Monday 2nd January 2023, covering the busiest days of the holiday period. Negotiations are underway, but staff say the strike will go ahead if an agreement can’t be reached.  

Heathrow Airport, UK Up to 350 baggage handlers at the London Heathrow airport have confirmed they will walk out for 72 hours from 4am on Friday 16th December, potentially causing mass delays and disruptions to a number of flights arriving and departing from the international airline hub.   

TAP Airline, Portugal – The airline confirmed yesterday that a strike for Thursday 8th and Friday 9th December will go ahead as planned, resulting in the cancellation of 360 flights for Portugal’s state-owned flag carrier. 

Ryanair, Belgium – While specific dates have yet to be announced, Ryanair’s Belgian branch has threatened to hold strikes at any time over the holiday season if no action is taken by the carrier to respond to workers claims of unlawful labour conditions. 

Vueling, Spain Spain continues to experience strikes being held by Vueling. Cabin crew are holding strikes every Monday, Friday and Sunday, and on public holidays, until the end of January 2023. 

Some progress, but still a way to go 

EasyJet delivered welcome news on Tuesday 6th December that a deal has been brokered with French cabin crew, and a Christmas strike has been averted. It is one of the more generous agreements reached in recent months: EasyJet has committed to a base pay increase of 7.5% as well as an additional 3,000 euro bonus.

This French-side deal follows on the back of British Airways staff accepting an offer during summer that constitutes of an 8% increase, a one-off bonus, and the reinstatement of shift pay.  

In November, Lufthansa also agreed to a two-stage pay increase in January (of 250 euros) and July (2.5%) next year. In early December, Delta pilots accepted a cumulative 34% pay increase over three years. 

This information is up-to-date as of midday on Wednesday 7th December. If you plan on flying during the festive period, it is encouraged to check all details with your carrier ahead of leaving for the airport.  



Photo by Monaco Life