Flights to Spain could face serious disruption this summer if strikes affecting more than 10 airlines go ahead.
A number of walkouts have been proposed by the Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (SEPLA), which represents workers from Air Nostrum, Air Europa, Iberia, Iberia Express, Vueling, Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, Swiftair, Plus Ultra, Jet 2, Eurowings and Evelop.
It is part of ongoing dispute with the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agency over the application of a “minimum services” law, which requires pilots to work during labour disputes to ensure that 90 per cent of flights go ahead.
Pilots from Air Nostrum and Air Europa have been striking since February, but the legislation means 60 of the daily 80 flights are still running.
Air Europa workers are also considering expanding their strike to 22, 23, 25, 26, 29 and 30 May, plus 1 and 2 June across all their bases.
Air traffic controllers, flight attendants and ground transportation could join future industrial action, according to the Majorca Daily Bulletin, but General Javier Fernández-Picazo, SEPLA secretary-general, said that decision “has to be evaluated and negotiated”.
The Independent has contacted SEPLA for comment.
Although the spectre of disruption will be concerning for passengers, the action is unlikely to severely derail travel plans for the majority of Britons visiting Spain.
Simon Calder, The Independent’s travel correspondent, said: “The structure of the UK-Spain aviation market is such that a large majority of passengers fly out on planes based at British airports and crewed by staff employed in the UK.
“Only a relatively small minority of British travellers could potentially be affected by the Spanish pilots’ strike. For example. some easyJet Gatwick-Palma services and Ryanair Luton-Malaga flights originate in Spain.
“At present airlines will not allow changes or cancellations. If, though, a flight is cancelled – for any reason – the carrier involved must find an alternative departure as soon as possible and pay for accommodation and meals while the passenger is waiting.”
Elsewhere in Europe, Italy’s latest bout of aviation industrial action begins at one minute past midnight on 19 May and continues for the rest of the day. Rather than a single strike, there are 14 separate walkouts mainly by ground staff (including some security personnel) at various Italian airlines and airports.
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, groups of workers are expected to strike for between four and 24 hours on Friday. The aim is to cause maximum disruption on what is often the busiest day of the week in terms of flights.
Like Spain, Italy has “minimum service” legislation that requires unions to ensure some flights still operate even during strikes. The principle aim is to keep the country’s two largest islands – Sicily and Sardinia – connected with the Italian mainland.
Many international flights should also be able to proceed largely as normal. But some easyJet passengers from London Gatwick to both Naples and Rome have been told their flights are cancelled.