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easyJet French, Portuguese Strikes

easyJet PlaneAir travellers planning to fly with easJet this week have been urged to check that their service hasn’t been impacted by strikes in France and Portugal before they show up at the airport. French pilots have threatened industrial action for today, Friday and Sunday; while Portuguese airport staff at Faro and Oporto are threatening to take action today and Friday. These strikes could impact British holidaymakers.

The SNPL union in France has encouraged its members to walkout in a row over pay. easyJet says that, despite the action only involving in French crews, there could be a knock-on effect for passengers travelling to and from the country. The action coincides with the Assumption Day holiday period, which will only increase its impact.

easyJet serves 30 countries with over 600 routes and carried 55 million passengers last year. France and Portugal are two its most popular destination over the school holiday season, and the carrier hopes any disruption from the strikes will be kept to a minimum.

A spokesman said they regret that some of their pilots have chosen to take industrial action instead of returning to the negotiating table – especially during such a busy travel period for holidaymakers. Management are still open to talks, he added, and they call on the SNPL union’s representatives to go back to negotiations.

The industrial action comes as easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou failed to oust the airline’s chairman, Sir Michael Rake. In a vote, 96% of shareholders favoured keeping Rake in the role. Stelios had argued that Rake’s position as Barclays’s deputy chairman kept him too busy to commit enough time to the carrier.

The first time Stelios expressed concern of Rake’s role happened when he became a possible candidate to take over as chairman of Barclays. Marcus Agius, who is currently in the role, is leaving the bank amid the rate-fixing scandal. Despite the role being handed to Sir David Walker already, Stelios is still against Rake’s position at easyJet and says he has too many responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the strikes by easyJet staff also come as holiday companies report a surge in bookings after a dip at the end of last month and beginning of this month during the Olympic Games. Holiday rentals and tour operator CLC Leisure director Laurence Hicks says business was relatively quiet during the end of July and beginning of August. However, they have seen a sudden rise in enquiries and bookings.

Hicks added that Brits either don’t want the celebrations to end or they are tired from the emotional impact of watching the events and need a holiday. They knew there would be late bookings this year due to people wanting to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Games, but the sudden surge they are experiencing has surpassed expectations.

Flight comparison site Cheapflights.com has also seen a rush in searches for post-Games holidays – including beach breaks for the August bank holiday. Almost five times as many searches are for flights between August 25 to 27, compared to the August 11-12 weekend. The company says the most popular destination is Spain, with Barcelona, Palma, Alicante and Malaga topping the searches.

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