Flying in Europe these days is not for the faint of heart. Three weeks ago, a pilot strike pushed SAS, the flag carrier for Denmark, Sweden and Norway, to file for bankruptcy in the U.S.. By the next morning, SAS had canceled a whopping 78% of its daily volume.
Now another European carrier, Lufthansa, has cancelled more than 1,000 flights this week due to more labor unrest. In a series of statements Monday and Tuesday, the German national airline blamed trade union ver.di, saying the “unreasonable” planned strike of 20,000 ground staff is “causing enormous damage,” adding that “this so-called warning strike in the middle of the peak summer travel season is simply no longer proportionate.”
Yesterday the German national carrier nixed 28% of its total flights. By Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. ET, Lufthansa had already cancelled 59% of its flights for the day, according to FlightAware tracking data. In total, an estimated 42,000 passengers are affected, Lufthansa said.
The carrier’s flights inside of Germany are the most affected, with Frankfurt and Munich airports seeing 44% and 34% of flights cancelled, respectively, for the day so far.
On Tuesday, airports around the world tallied nearly 22,000 flight delays and 2,800 cancellations, according to FlightAware.
Europe isn’t the only place travelers are running into disruptions. In the United States, 16 airports saw at least 20% of Tuesday’s flights delayed. The worst offenders were Miami International Airport and Orlando International Airport, where 48% and 41% of all flights, respectively, departed late.
“Unfortunately, the traveling public is going to have to get used to some frustrations and challenges and higher prices for for a while,” Mark Baier, CEO of AviationManuals, a leading provider of aviation development manual services and safety management system software, told Forbes. He noted that most of this summer’s flight disruptions can be to chalked up to “a perfect storm” of equipment and staff shortages.
But labor issues are also part of the story in the United States. This spring and summer has seen pilots engaged in picketing at Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines as unions negotiate for stronger contracts.