Strikes ground flights in Portugal and Spain

Three different walkouts were taking place

An Air Portugal plane lands at Lisbon airport on Friday. AP
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Flights were cancelled in Portugal and Spain as the European tourism sector, trying to recover from Covid-19 lockdowns, is faced with staff demanding better wages as inflation hits.

About 60 flights were cancelled at Lisbon airport on Sunday, the last day of a strike by baggage-handling workers.

Iberia Express cancelled eight domestic flights on Sunday as cabin crew launched a 10-day strike for higher wages amid soaring inflation, and easyJet pilots delayed another four flights in another dispute.

In Portugal, employees with handling company Portway want better holiday pay and career progression.

Pedro Figueiredo, spokesman for the National Union for Civil Aviation Workers, said that 90 per cent of Portway's ramp operations workers at Lisbon and Porto airports were taking part in the three-day strike.

The union expected between 70 and 80 Lisbon flights to be cancelled on Sunday and 30 to 40 at Porto airport, Mr Figueiredo said.

Data from the national airports operator, ANA, showed 31 arrivals and 28 departures had been cancelled on Sunday at Lisbon, Portugal's busiest airport.

“In the coming days, our union will evaluate the results of this strike and we may adopt new forms of fight,” Mr Figueiredo said.

Handling workers assist airlines with baggage and push planes on to the tarmac.

Scores of airport ground staff have held protests across Europe this summer to demand higher pay, emboldened by booming demand for air travel and staff shortages.

Airlines are meanwhile dealing with soaring fuel prices and airspace closures related to the war in Ukraine.

The strike took place on one of the busiest weekends of the year, with foreign and Portuguese tourists still travelling for summer holidays.

Portway, which is owned by French group Vinci, said the “irresponsible” strike would jeopardise Portugal's tourism sector, which accounted for almost 15 per cent of gross domestic product before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Iberia Express walkout, which will run until September 6, is expected to involve 92 cancellations affecting more than 17,000 passengers, a spokeswoman for the USO union said

Four easyJet flights were also cancelled on Sunday as the airline's pilots observed their third period of strike action this month, the Sepla union said.

The cancellations affected flights into or out of Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, which were coming from or flying to London and Geneva.

Since they began their first three-day strike on August 12, there have been 79 flight cancellations.

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

Their walkout began just two weeks after a strike by easyJet cabin crew, which resulted in a deal.

Updated: August 28, 2022, 11:41 PM
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