Airports, airlines, and air traffic control systems are intricately interconnected. Disruptions such as strikes or issues occurring in one location or sector can significantly affect Palma Airport, even when operations at PMI are running smoothly. Here is a summary of the latest, upcoming, and recent strikes that have had an impact on or are currently affecting Palma de Mallorca Airport.
Palma Airport is not currently affected by any strikes.
The ground staff at Palma Airport were threatening with strike action in early December. Luckily, an agreement has now been reached and the strike could be averted.
Not for the first time this year, French air traffic controllers were on strike on 20/11/2023. Flights between Mallorca and several European countries pass through French airspace, so an air traffic controllers’ strike in France impacts flights to and from Mallorca.
An agreement was reached at the Iberia Regional Air Nostrum. This strike action, which initially took place on weekdays and was later extended to include weekends, came to a conclusion at the end of June 2023.
A looming air traffic control strike at Eurocontrol was making headlines in July, and was causing concerns for travellers to and from Mallorca as well as other European destinations. Luckily, a deal was reached in the negotiations, so that strike action could be avoided.
A partial failure in the computer system of the Spanish air navigation manager Enaire on 30th June 2023 caused severe delays at Palma Airport. Read more about this here. On Monday, the 28th of August 2023, a technical problem caused a temporary restriction in UK airspace, resulting in delayed and cancelled flights all across Europe, including Palma Airport. More information here.
EasyJet recently announced the cancellation of 1,700 flights, around 2% of their total flights for July and August. The airline explained that this adjustment was made pre-emptively due to the “challenging air traffic environment”. Most of the affected passengers have already been re-booked on alternative flights. Ryanair also had to cancel over 900 flights in June, primarily due to air traffic controller strikes in France.
Airport strikes seem to be part and parcel of summer holidays and Mallorca is no different. Summer peak season airport strikes are the worst possibility for travellers when most disruption will be caused and sadly the timing is no coincidence.
Knowing what to expect really depends on what type of strike action is being taken and who is striking.
The worst situation is a widespread walkout of workers, resulting in the stoppage of a critical service, whether it be for 24 hours or longer. A general strike essentially brings an airport to its knees and all passengers will be badly affected.
While this type of airport strike may be a cause for anxiety and a threat to your holiday, luckily in recent times it hasn’t been so frequent.
The most common type of strike to expect at Palma airport is ‘fix period’ stoppages. These are typically of 2-4h hours in duration and happen two or three times in a 24 hour day for up to a week at a time.
While very disruptive to passengers and airlines, in most cases your holiday is safe as flights will still depart and arrive albeit with some possible delays or even rescheduling.
The type of airport occupation striking also makes a difference to how disruptive a strike will be. Baggage handlers striking, which is quite common at Palma, will mean a backlog of luggage.
This means passengers are in for a lengthy wait for their baggage or that they will be without their stuff for a period of time. This could cause real problems although in most cases it will mean a little extra waiting. If the strike is a complete walkout it could cause the airport to close although this is unlikely.
A few years back coach drivers went on strike, which doesn’t sound so serious but it caused such congestion of passengers at Palma airport that there was talk of closing the airport. Flights still went though.
Air traffic controllers striking in a complete walkout would bring the airport to a grinding halt. In most cases, this won’t happen for a couple of reasons.
In the interests of safety and national security Spanish law technically bans air traffic controllers from completely walking out. Air traffic controllers are not to have less than 70 percent of staff on duty during a strike.
This means the airport will function but with possible delays and rescheduling. Also, Spanish air traffic controllers have recently been taking fixed period stoppages rather than a full strike.
Another reassuring point is that in the past Spain’s military have been called in to handle the air traffic control during general strikes. However, this is a last resort and the military would probably struggle to man all the airports in Spain in the event of a national walkout.
Airlines and airports advise passengers to monitor their flights and their websites closely and prepare for delays. Sometimes with a strike looming a flight may be brought forward by a few hours. You can check your flight status here.
Passengers finding themselves trapped for up to three or more hours without taking preparatory measures could face an unpleasant wait.
Travelers should pack enough clothing, snacks, fluids, and especially vital medication for a potential delay.
Airlines will try to operate a full schedule, however, in most cases, flights are delayed.
Sometimes airlines will try to avoid delays and the strike period by bringing flights forward. Other flights during the strike period may be rescheduled for a few hours later, often to the early hours of the morning.
When a flight is cancelled airlines will try to contact passengers to save them an unnecessary journey to the airport, this is usually via email or an SMS.
A few airlines will operate larger aircraft to catch up with the buildup of passengers from cancelled flights.
Tour operators and some airlines will try to look after the needs of their passengers in whatever way they can, often with refreshments, but isn’t to be expected.
Some tour operators will make contingency plans and reserve hotel rooms in the event that their clients will be stranded.
Whether your airline is obliged to pay compensation in the event of a strike depends, among other things, on the conditions of carriage. If you book a flight for a strike date that has already been announced, you may not be entitled to compensation. You should therefore enquire about any planned strike action before booking.