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Planning to travel in April or May? Check these strike dates first

Europe is a hive of strike action right now, with many employees unhappy that sky-high inflation has not been matched by higher wages.

Walkouts are planned all over Europe, showing that it always pay to check before you travel.

Luckily, we have gathered all of the strike information together below.

Read on to find out where and when are walkouts taking place.

If your flight or train is cancelled or delayed, you will be entitled to a new ticket or compensation. Read our guide for the full details.

Spain: Strikes at 17 Spanish airports

Some of Spain’s busiest airports are facing strikes by unionised workers at ground services and cargo handling company Swissport between now and Easter.

From 27 February to 13 April, they have called for a series of 24-hour walkouts every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Swissport Handling provides services at Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat, Reus, Alicante, Valencia, Murcia, Málaga, Almería, Salamanca, Valladolid, Burgos, Logroño, Zaragoza, Huesca, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife Sur airports.

Unions will have to provide minimum services, as is required by Spanish law, so it isn’t yet clear what impact the strikes will have on passengers.

Portugal: Warning about Easter border disruption

Portuguese immigration officials are walking out for six days starting on 6 April. The strike has been timed to coincide with the busy Easter weekend and could cause “major disturbances at airports” according to news agency LUSA.  

Unions are walking out over a restructuring of Portugal’s immigration and border services (SEF). Roughly 900 inspectors and 700 non-police personnel work at SEF. 

The UK Foreign Office has warned passengers to allow additional time to clear border control when entering and exiting the country during this period. 

“Check for announcements and follow the guidance provided by your airline or tour operator,” it says. 

Germany: Public sector pauses strikes

German public sector works have entered an arbitration period after inconclusive talks over pay. It means that strikes which have hit the transport sector in recent weeks are effectively suspended until after the busy Easter holiday period. 

This week a “megastrike” caused widespread travel chaos. Two of the country’s biggest transport unions, representing a majority of transport workers, called for industrial action. It brought railways and airports to a standstill and was Germany’s biggest walkout in more than three decades. 

France: Travellers warned about ongoing French pension protests

Unions across France have been in an ongoing battle against an increase in the legal retirement age from 62 to 64.

Protests have broken out across the country after President Emmanuel Macron decided to push the change without a parliamentary vote. Rubbish has built up in Paris and was set on fire. Protesters have also clashed with police in the French capital. 

Unions have also called for an 11th day of protest action across several sectors – including transport – on Thursday 6 April.  

Air traffic control strikes disrupt flights

On 6 April the French Civil Aviation Authority has again advised airlines to cancel 20 per cent of flights to Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes and Toulouse. Paris-Orly airport won’t be affected by these cancellations. 

Due to air traffic control workers (ATC) joining the strikes, Ryanair has also warned passengers to expect delays and cancellations on flights to, from or over France until 8 April. That could include flights to many other popular holiday destinations in Italy, Spain and North Africa. 

The budget airline adds that there have been 30 days of action from French ATC staff in 2023 forcing it to cancel 3,080 flights. Ryanair says affected passengers will be notified as soon as possible and is asking people to check the airline’s app for the latest updates.  

Travellers are, in general, being advised to check with airlines whether their flight is still scheduled before leaving for the airport. 

Widespread strikes could disrupt train travel

French state-owned rail company SNCF says that more services will operate as normal than on previous strike days on 6 April. It plans to run three out of four TGV services on Thursday and one out of two TER trains. 

Intercités are still likely to face widespread disruption with only a quarter of trains running and no night services. There will be a heavily reduced timetable for local services too. 

UK: Disruption likely during the Easter holidays

1,400 security guards at London’s Heathrow Airport are going on strike over the Easter holidays.

Guards who work in Terminal 5, the main portal for British Airways and where many international flights depart and arrive, will be walking out for 10 days from 31 March until 9 April.

Airport bosses have said Heathrow is operating as normal. Passengers leaving from Terminal 5 are being advised to turn up no earlier than two hours before European flights and three hours before intercontinental flights. If you are leaving from any of Heathrow’s other terminals, your flight is unlikely to be affected by this strike. 

Security staff are striking over low pay, after rejecting the airport’s offer of a 10 per cent pay increase. 

Unite union secretary general Sharon Graham says Heathrow workers are on “poverty wages while the chief executive and senior managers enjoy huge salaries.” A security guard at Heathrow is paid as little as £24,000 (€27,400) a year, according to the union.

The union says the “strike action will cause huge disruption and delays at Heathrow throughout Easter.” 

But Heathrow says contingency plans will be in place to ensure the airport stays open, saying it will be “open and operational despite unnecessary threats of strike action by Unite”.

British Airways have announced they will be cancelling 32 flights a day during the disruption, totalling more than 300 flights.

“We’ve apologised to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them a range of options, including rebooking onto a new flight with us or another airline, or requesting a full refund,” a British Airways spokesperson said.

UK: When are UK passport workers on strike?

Although this strike doesn’t affect any transport services, it could stop you from taking a trip.

More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) including those working in Passport offices in England, Scotland and Wales are to walk out from 3 April until 5 May.

The strike will involve those working in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport. 

The Business Travel Association estimated that more than one million passport applications are due to be processed during the strike period. There are currently no plans to change official guidance stating that it takes up to 10 weeks to get a passport. 

Heathrow Airport has said it will operate as normal during the five-week strike. A spokesperson said that contingency plans were “working well” and there have been no last-minute cancellations due to these strikes.

The airport says any cancellations that are happening were agreed upon at the start of the week with passengers given advanced notice. 

If you know of a big strike happening in your country that we have missed, we’d love to hear from you via Twitter.

Read More:Planning to travel in April or May? Check these strike dates first