Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potential Travel Woes for Europe

Cabin crew dispute - ballot result


British Airways and Unite, the union representing the majority of cabin crew, reached an agreement to settle the dispute.  The members need to vote, but with the support of the union leaders, the agreement is expected to pass.    This ends the potential threat which could have impacted cruise vacations for the summer holiday months.

Last April, Europe's airspace was empty for days on end due to the volcano in Iceland.   This year, British airspace could once again be void of the usual number of planes if the threatened strike action against British Airways proceeds.

Are You Covered?

As always, our recommendation is to purchase Travel Insurance for your cruise vacation. It may not be too late to take out travel insurance, but check the policy carefully for any clauses on industrial action.  If you have any doubts after reading the policy, check with the insurance company directly to be certain you are covered.

British Airways Plans

British Airways has the following statement posted on their website:

Last updated: 12:00, Tuesday 29 March 2011 (UK time)

Unite, the trade union for British Airways cabin crew, has announced that its strike ballot has closed in favour of strike action.

Unite has not set any dates for the proposed strike action and we remain in talks with them.
If a strike does take place, we have strong contingency plans in place. We will:
  • Operate a normal schedule at London Gatwick and London City
  • Aim to fly 100 per cent of our longhaul flights to and from London Heathrow
  • Aim to fly the majority of our shorthaul flights to and from London Heathrow
More details on our contingency plans

As all our flights are operating as normal at the moment, any changes to bookings are subject to the original fare rules.  Unite must give seven days’ notice of any proposed strike action.

Busy Easter Holiday Time

Could Easter Holiday travel be impacted?   The strike vote was held on March 28th, and any action must be taken within 28 days, or a new ballot would be required.   Since the 28-day period from the last ballot ends on Easter Monday, April 25, there definitely is a chance holiday travel could be impacted.   This year, there are an unprecedented four bank holidays (thanks to the extra one for the royal wedding).

Cruise Line Contingencies 

Royal Caribbean International and other cruise lines, that will be operating ships in Europe at the time, are putting plans in place to help stranded passengers connect with their ships.   In the past, the cruise line has re-booked flights on other carriers or found alternate transport means for their guests on fly-cruise packages.

Unless the strike occurs later, the impact on cruises will be minimal as the ships will just be transitioning from the Caribbean starting in April.   May and June will be the kick-off of the busy Mediterranean cruise season, so any action that takes place later, could impact those passengers.

The fact that the British Airways still plans to fly the long-haul flights, even if a strike occurs, should lessen the impact on overseas guests.

We will monitor this situation, and publish additional details, should the situation drastically change.

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