Ryanair, Brussels Airlines strikes disrupt European air travel
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Ryanair cabin crew unions in Spain, Portugal and Belgium called a three-day strike starting on Friday, and in Italy and France on Saturday.
The biggest impact was felt in Belgium, where the work stoppage led Europe's biggest budget airline to cancel 127 flights to and from Charleroi airport near Brussels between Friday and Sunday.
The company has cancelled 315 flights to and from Brussels' internatioanl airport during the three-day strike.
The impact of the Ryanair strike was more limited in Portugal, where only two flights we cancelled on Friday morning, according to the SNPVAC union behind the walkout in the country.
It expects the strike to gain force later in the day.
In Spain, where Ryanair employs 1,900 people, no flights we cancelled except those heading to Belgium.
Spain's transport ministry on Thursday ordered Ryanair to operate 73 percent to 82 percent of flights over the strike period to maintain minimum services.
It argued there needs to be a balance between the "right to strike" and the "interest of travellers".
"The company informed staff that all flights were subject to the minimum service, and threated them with disciplinary action," Ernesto Iglesias of local USO told reporters at Madrid airport.
The airline was not "respecting the law," he added.
"We operate two and half thousand flights every day," he said earlier this month in Belgium.
"Most of those flights will continue to operate even if there is a strike in Spain by some Mickey Mouse union or if the Belgian cabin crew unions want to go on strike over here," he told journalists.
The strikes come as air travel has rebounded since Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.
But many airlines, which laid off staff during the pandemic, are having trouble rehiring enough workers, forcing them to cancel flights. That includes easyJet, which has been particularly hard hit by employee shortages.