Holidaymakers face travel chaos as air strikes loom

Thousands of Irish holidaymakers could face travel chaos next month due to a planned strike by Spanish air traffic controllers.

The four-day protest is to be held in peak holiday season — June 8, 10, 12, and 14 — and is expected to cause major delays.

The dispute revolves around penalties doled out by Spanish airport operator AENA, punishing those who took part in a strike five years ago.

In a 2010 dispute over pay and conditions, workers staged a walkout without warning. The action saw thousands of passengers stranded.

“The timing of this Spanish air traffic strike will be a real inconvenience to Irish holidaymakers at what is the beginning of the summer holiday season.

“Spain has consistently been the number one holiday destination for the Irish public,” said Martin Skelly, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association.

“All of our member travel agents will work closely with their leisure customers to minimise inconvenience by keeping them up to date with delays and cancellations as well as assisting them with rebooking flights and changing travel plans.”

Holidaymakers are being advised to make sure they select the right travel insurance policy to protect them against air traffic control strikes.

While European airlines are obliged to refund or rearrange flights affected by strike action, they do not cover customers for lost accommodation costs.

Meanwhile, new EU rules to give more protection to holidaymakers were agreed in Brussels yesterday. The rules will extend existing consumer protection to cover not only package holidays, but also give clear protection to consumers who book other forms of travel such as a self-chosen flight and hotel combination.

The Council of the European Union is expected to give formal approval of the agreed text of the rules in September. Member states will then have two years to implement the rules and traders a further six months to adopt them.

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