The flight delay compensation company, EUclaim, predicts Brits planning holidays to Southern Europe this year will face “travel misery”.
Passengers planning getaways in earlier Easter school holidays will be the first to suffer, as strike action by French Air Traffic Controllers is set to throw airports across the Channel into meltdown from Sunday to Tuesday.
Tjitze Noordehaven, the COO at EUclaim predicts things could get even worse for British holidaymakers if their flight delay modelling data is correct: “If the French unions follow their strike patterns of 2014, we are likely to see further action in May and June, spoiling summer holidays.”
The misery for delayed passengers does not end there. Unfortunately, British travellers won’t be able to claim any compensation if delays or cancellations are caused by a French Air Traffic Control strike, because strike action is not considered “extraordinary”.
Over the course of just two days in June 2014, there were 1030 delays or cancellations caused by French Air Traffic Control Strikes.
In the past, strike action planned for a Sunday has been cancelled by the French to avoid missing out on double pay. Even if the French weren’t on strike, the travel situation would still be “pretty dire”, Noordehaven predicts. “Analysing data from the biggest airports in the UK over the Easter period for the last three years, cancelled and delayed flights are much higher over this long weekend when Easter falls in March rather than April because of the worse weather conditions.”
When Easter last fell in March in 2013, the worst offender for flight delays and cancellations was Manchester Airport which saw 30 flights delayed for more than three hours and 17 cancellations, compared with just nine delays and only four cancellations over the April Easter weekend in 2014.
London airports reveal the same March Easter patterns, particularly Heathrow and Gatwick. Heathrow saw 12 cancelled flights in 2013, dropping significantly to 5 for the 2014 Easter weekend.
This shot back up to 16 with the early April holiday last year. Gatwick is no less at fault with 15 cancellations in 2013, compared to three in 2014 and rising to 11 last year.
Noorderhaven said: “The upshot is, French Air Traffic Control strike action is going to throw a real spanner in the works for anyone travelling to Southern Europe next week and with only a few extra days off for the Easter weekend, we need to make sure that we’re not wasting time stuck at the airport or on the tarmac. Hopefully UK travellers can use these tips to make the most of this precious time off.”