Strikes, waiting… Why does flying feel like a hassle this summer?

After two summers of not daring to do anything outside France for fear of restrictions linked to Covid-19, Justin, 30 years old and full of travel desires, had booked his flight to Turkey in April next July, determined to catch up. The era of confinements and border closures being a long way off, the road to Istanbul finally seemed clear.

But now the knees of this young professor begin to slam seriously at the idea of ​​this trip. Far from Omicron or any other variant, the multiple strike threats hanging over the air sector for this summer are giving it cold sweats. Aim instead: a staff strike at Paris airports is expected for the first weekend of July, EasyJet announces drastic cancellations the same month, many companies could follow, and pilot and staff unions are rumbling.

“Everything is messed up”

“Summer is likely to be difficult”, validates Thierry Oriol, Air France pilot, member of the executive board of the National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL) and reassembled against the current working conditions. According to him, there would be a lack of staff throughout the aviation sector, and working conditions unsuited to the very strong recovery in traffic: “We are keeping the working conditions of Covid-19 while activity has now returned. at pre-pandemic levels.

Because of this inadequacy, “there are and will be many malfunctions, due in particular to the lack of personnel and longer waits”, warns the unionist pilot: “Whether to board or to leave the plane, to take off… Everything is likely to take longer. It’s a complex chain, just one problem, and it’s all out of order. It sometimes takes us an hour to get off the plane once we’ve landed”.

In Search of Lost Time

Asked by 20 minutes, Paris Aéroport is a little more reassuring: “There will be no scenes of chaos this summer, nor any major risk to the smooth running of our airports. In April, we lacked 4,000 positions for this summer, which is approximately the figure each year. “All is well, then? Not so fast, because Paris Aéroport recognizes that there may be recruitment difficulties this year, like the galleys of hiring in the service and hotel sectors.

Be careful, therefore: it is better not to arrive at the airport half an hour before boarding. “Waiting times could be a little long,” admits Paris Aéroport, advising to come this summer at least three hours in advance, rather than the usual two. But beyond the lack of staff, the slowness would also be due to the loss of habit of travelers. “After two years of the pandemic, people forgot to come to the airport early, to remove liquids from bags, to remove electronic products for check-in… All of this slows down airport life a lot” , continues the group.

Threat on the flight

Justin, not a fan of half-measures, squarely set his day for the evening of his departure. “Between the possible delays on the RER, waiting at the airport, strike movements, it seemed more prudent to me”. Because even arriving three days in advance and pitching your tent in front of Orly, nothing says that the plane will take off. Here is the second problem: the massive strikes which could nail a number of aircraft to the ground. The first part took place on Thursday June 9, with more than a quarter of flights at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle canceled due to a strike between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Marie-Claude Amphoux, public affairs adviser at SNPL, does not deny the risk: “The unions of all trades are angry. All airline personnel have made efforts during the pandemic, whether in terms of salary – pilots have lost between 20 and 30-35% of salary – or in terms of working time, with the promise that things will return to normal. normal when the epidemic situation would be settled. The recovery is there, without anything changing. Strike notices were notably filed in April at Ryanair and Voltea. “It’s tense in many companies, continues the trade unionist, in particular because of understaffing”.

Understaffing which could pose a final major problem: an epidemic resumption of the coronavirus is currently observed in France, and should reach its peak in July or August, according to projections by epidemiologists. Enough to put a number of staff on sick leave.

So, the train?

You will understand, it smells bad. Justin is desperate to see the Blue Mosque or Saint Sophia one day: “I’ve already taken my tickets and put my leave, I’m just going to pray hard and hope it passes. We didn’t dare ask Thierry Oriol for his prognosis on poor Justin’s flight, but the pilot warns: “In July and August, there will probably be a lot of strikes, and many planes won’t take off.”

Something to think about Sophie, 27 and less organized than Justin. A defect that could turn to his advantage: “I have not yet organized my holidays, and the situation makes me think seriously. We may be going to France, just to take the train or the car and not have our flight canceled at the last moment. Plus, it’s eco-friendly.”

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