Some disruption at Barcelona airport as Ryanair and EasyJet cabin crew strike

6 Ryanair flights called off as of Friday evening after 20 were canceled the previous day, while several delayed departures reported

Ryanair passengers at the airline customer service desk on July 1, 2022 (by Cillian Shields)
Ryanair passengers at the airline customer service desk on July 1, 2022 (by Cillian Shields) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 1, 2022 07:32 PM

Barcelona airport saw some disruptions on Friday morning, with one flight canceled and over a dozen delayed, as the cabin crews of two of Europe's biggest low-cost airlines, Ryanair and Easyjet, both went on strike.

While the Irish company’s staff stopped working for the fifth day, the British company's workers started the first of their nine days of strike. Easyjet protests will be non-consecutive, taking place on weekends over the course of July.

Early reports from unions and both airlines showed no major problems at the Catalan capital's airport. However, the first canceled flight to or from Barcelona airport was the one destined for Milan in the early afternoon.

Four flights canceled and 56 delayed

As of 9pm, and according to USO trade union, four Ryanair flights to or from Barcelona had been called off, not only from and to Milan, but also Rome. Also, 16 departures and 26 arrivals were delayed. Two more flights in the Girona - Nuremberg route were also called off.

As for Easyjet, no services have been canceled, but 8 depatures and 6 arrivals took more than expected. 

Passengers who were due to take the flight to Milan informed Catalan News that they only found out about their flight being canceled five minutes after it was scheduled to take off, as everybody was queueing up at the gate to board the plane. 

'I try to avoid Ryanair because they are one of the worst airlines'

All passengers consulted by Catalan News did not know what they would do next, after discovering that their flight had been called off. 

Omar Sosa, a musician from Cuba, was due to fly to Italy to perform a concert on Friday night. "I try to avoid Ryanair because they're one of the worst airlines in the entire planet, but now all airlines are basically the same," Sosa said. "They don't even inform us, at least so we can find a solution," he said. "The level of stress is really high." 

Craig Ward was in Barcelona on a short business trip and had his flight canceled as well. "I checked in this morning, I was here on time, the boarding sign was there for 40 minutes or more and then they said the flight was canceled," he explained, adding that all passengers were ready to get on the plane when they were informed. "I have no idea [what to do]. It's Friday and I'm stuck in Spain at this moment in time. I'm not that hopeful, to be honest, but I'll try to keep smiling, it's sunny outside," he laughed. 

Despite his personal inconvenience, Craig understands that the busy summer period is a good time for workers who feel they are being mistreated to make their voices heard. "Everyone has their own reasons, they probably think that this is their best opportunity to be heard," he said. 

An Italian passenger who only identified himself as Misaggi told Catalan News that his flight from Milan to Barcelona had been delayed two hours and his return flight on Friday was called off completely. Misaggi was very annoyed at the airline and considered driving back to Italy.  

Ryanair also saw eleven delayed arrivals, and a further five delayed departures as of 1 pm, while at the other Catalan airport the airline operates in, Girona, two departures were delayed and only one plane arrived later than expected.

Easyjet passengers did not experience any major incidents as only three flights to Barcelona were delayed and two leaving the Catalan capital saw minor delays, as of 1 pm.

Union complaints

Unions have denounced wrongdoing by both companies. Ryanair workers claim the company has "once again brought cabin crew members from other headquarters to operate flights with Spain as its origin," a statement shared on Friday morning reads. "Some are Portuguese, while others are from outside the EU, such as the UK," it continues.

They are preparing all the required information to "file the necessary complaints to the labor offices in each city, as for now, there is non-Spanish staff in flights departing from Barcelona-El Prat and Galician city of Santiago de Compostela," the statement says.

Mario Rivetti, a representative for USO in Barcelona, explained to Catalan News that EasyJet workers in Spain earn only around half the wages that their colleagues in other countries like France and Germany earn. 

Rivetti called on the company to negotiate with a "constructive attitude," and warned that cabin crew staff are ready to strike for longer than the currently scheduled 9 days. "We've given the company this window of time between every calling strike just for them to reconsider what is written on the table at the moment and meet us with a constructive attitude," he explained.

Easyjet staff, going on strike for the first day on Friday ahead of eight more days during July, also consider the company has "exceeded the number of flights considered minimum services," a statement reads.

The Spanish government has set obligatory minimum services for employees ranging between 36% and 80% at Catalan airports. 

Workers also complain the company "has followed Ryanair’s style and is not respecting the minimum service rights and is violating the cabin crew's right to strike," the Easyjet USO union statement says.

Ryanair strike

The Irish company has been afflicted by several strikes in the last few days. On Thursday, workers started a new protest set to last for three days until Saturday, which comes after three other days of strike action last weekend, from June 24 to 26. No more protests have been announced for this summer as of yet. 

The strike forced Ryanair to cancel 20 flights from Barcelona-El Prat airport on Thursday, according to the USO union. They were supposed to depart from Barcelona to Billund, in Denmark, Kraków in Poland, and Paris Beauvais airport, as well as Brussels Charleroi, Naples, and Malaga, among others.

Between Friday to Sunday last week, more than 40 flights to and from Catalan airports were canceled. 

Barcelona's El Prat was the most affected airport in Catalonia, but Girona-Costa Brava in the north and Reus in southern Catalonia also saw a wave of delays and cancellations, as did other facilities across Spain and other European countries.

Easyjet strike

The USO union also called for EasyJet's cabin crew in Spain to go on strike for nine days over three weekends in July. Staff stopped working on July 1 and will continue to do so on July 2 to 3, 15 to 17, and 29 to 31, meaning that both companies will see employees protest on July 1 and 2.

In a statement released on June 21, USO condemned the "blocked impasse" from Easyjet. The union wants workers to have salaries similar to other company staff based in other European countries such as Germany or France.