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Potential Holiday Chaos As Airline Staff Plan Strikes Worldwide

Date: November 29, 2022

Potential Holiday Chaos As Airline Staff Plan Strikes Worldwide

By Lukas Souza, Simple Flying

Published 11/28/2022

Holiday travel may get crazier than usual this December.

The Thanksgiving holiday just passed in the United States, and Christmas is rapidly approaching, a hectic time for airlines everywhere. Airlines are preparing for a busy December, and staff at many airlines worldwide are preparing to strike if contracts are not renewed.


Unions representing cabin crew from multiple airlines in France are threatening strike action over the Christmas holiday if airlines do not resolve contract disputes. The SNPNC-FO union represents crew from many airlines, including easyJet, and has already said there is a "very high chance" of a walkout over Christmas if easyJet does not increase pay.

According to the union, no dates for the proposed strike have been defined, and the current offer from easyJet does not cover the rising cost of living. If disruptions occur, the union says airline management will be held responsible.

Air France

Air France staff may also walk out. A few weeks ago, the Union des Navigants de l'Aviation Civil (UNAC) and the Syndicat des Navigants du groupe Air France (SNGAF) filed a strike action that could lead to a strike from December 22 to January 2, covering two major holidays worldwide.

According to the unions representing Air France's cabin crew, during contract negotiations, the airline failed to extend the Collective Agreement this fall. The agreement expired at the end of October and has made negotiations more difficult.

Cabin crew are particularly frustrated with working conditions and salaries, stating that the airline prioritizes profitability over its staff. The airline wants to set a ratio of one flight attendant per 51 passengers, compared to one per 48 flight attendants on its long-haul flights. The unions are fighting for the ratio to be brought down to one cabin crew per 48 passengers. Air France counteroffered one flight attendant per 50 passengers, and the unions did not accept, claiming that the high ratio threatens cabin crew safety.

Historically high inflation rates at the end of a pandemic are proving difficult for many businesses, airlines included. In September, Air France offered more than 38,000 employees a $1,000 bonus and a 5% raise, but that raise has not been proven enough. The unions have proposed a temporary solution to avoid strikes during two of the year's busiest holidays.

TAP Air Portugal

TAP Air Portugal has already been affected by planned strikes that will take place between December 8-9. The airline failed to reach a new agreement with its cabin crew, leading unions to announce strike action in the first half of December. The airline canceled 360 flights over the two days, almost half of its operations, affecting nearly 50,000 passengers and resulting in losses of almost $8.3 million.

Strikes in the United States

American carriers may also be facing strikes in December as unions at every major airline, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, have been unable to reach new contract agreements with their pilots and cabin crew. Delta's pilots authorized strike action at the end of October, the first approval since 2006, after contract negotiations that began in April 2019 stalled. However, final details on the strikes are yet to come, and hopefully, action can be avoided altogether with a new contract.

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