Malaga Airport is bracing itself ahead of the strikes called at two of the airlines that carry the most passengers at the Costa del Sol facility. In full summer holiday swing, when passenger traffic is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, the industrial action could put the airport to the test.
Today, Thursday 30 June, the second phase of the Ryanair cabin crew strikes in Spain, called by the USO and Sitcpla unions to demand the signing of a collective agreement, will begin and continue until 2 July. In addition, from the 1st to the 3rd July, the USO has also called for industrial action at the three easyJet bases in Spain, although the go-ahead of this protest still depends on the conciliation talks scheduled to be held later today.
Speaking to SUR this Thursday, Fernando Ricote, from the Sitcpla union, has confirmed that the airline has cancelled 16 flights that were scheduled to depart or arrive in the capital of the Costa del Sol. “For now this is the impact of the strike. As the day progresses we do not know if there may be some more", he said. So far, flight connections (some round trip) with eight destinations have been cancelled: Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris and Las Palmas, Barcelona, Santiago de Compostela, the Danish town of Billund and Niederrhein airport in Germany.
During the first wave of three-day action last week many Ryanair flights were cancelled and some others were delayed for several hours. Figures supplied by the USO union showed that 16 flights to or from Malaga airport were cancelled on Saturday and another 20 on Sunday. These included services to or from Oslo, Marseilles, Stockholm, Exeter and East Midlands, and also Gran Canaria, Ibiza and Lanzarote.
The Irish low-cost airline, which expects to move five million passengers in Malaga this year and which led passenger traffic in 2019 on the Costa del Sol, has 47 flights scheduled for today departing from Malaga Airport and 48 arriving at the destination.
Unions have criticised that Ryanair has classified all flights as minimum services. “Ryanair applies its own 100% minimum services, its own law, and forces all its crew to fly, trampling on their right to strike. The government does nothing." said Lidia Arasanz of the USO. Fernando Ricote, from Sitcpla, believes that there will be a greater impact on days 1 and 2 of the latest action, as happened in the first phase of the stoppages.
The CEO of Ryanair, Eddie Wilson, in an interview with SUR the day before the wave of the strike, argued that the company has been negotiating with the unions for five years without reaching an agreement and that, in the face of this, in six weeks they have closed an agreement with another union, the CCOO. “They only seek confrontation”, he said, forecasting that the strikes would “have a minimal impact”.
In addition, unless the action is called off following arbitration talks today, the USO union has called a cabin crew strike at easyJet, an airline that is operating a seasonal base in Malaga for the second year in which it has scheduled almost two million seats to fly to the Costa del Sol this summer, a figure similar to that of 2019.
The company has five aircraft based at Malaga, which connects with 17 destinations. EasyJet said that "we are disappointed with this strike call at such a critical moment for the industry, especially since we are making considerable progress in the negotiations towards a new collective agreement, and we hope that USO does not carry out this action but instead resume talks with easyJet. We would like to continue the constructive dialogue with them." The company explained that “in the event that the union action continues, it is likely that there will be some interruptions in our flight programme to and from Malaga, Palma and Barcelona during the strike period. Until the strike is effective, easyJet plans to operate its full programme and we would like to assure customers that we will do everything we can to relocate them, if needed, to the best of our ability."
At present, the dates when strikes are planned are:
30 June, 1 and 2 July at the airline’s ten bases in Spain: Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Alicante, Sevilla, Palma, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza.
1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17, 29, 30 and 31 July at the three bases in Barcelona, Malaga and Palma.