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Travellers urged to consider cruises from UK to avoid airline strikes

Travellers are being urged to book cruises to remove the stress of airports in the face of summer strikes at numerous airlines including British Airways.

The suggestion came from Not Just Travel co-founder Steve Witt as mainly BA check-in staff at Heathrow backed industrial action in a dispute over pay, with strike dates to be confirmed in the next few days.

However, union officials have indicated that the dates would be set for the last two weekends of July to coincide with the start of the summer school holidays in England.

Other carriers facing strikes by workers include Ryanair, easyJet, Brussels Airlines, Air France and SAS in addition to walk-outs by Italian crew and staff shortages affecting Lufthansa services.

Travel intelligence provider Mabrain estimated that Ryanair’s cabin crew striking across Europe this week puts at risk the journeys of almost 600,000 travellers flying from Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal in just three days, accounting for more than 3,000 flights.

Spain will be hit most, making up around 300,000 scheduled seats on over 1,500 flights, with Majorca airport bearing the brunt of the disruption.

Mabrian sales and marketing director Carlos Cendra said: “Whilst in normal times some of those passengers might still travel via alternative means or re-arrange for another date, this time it looks like many will have to give up their plans permanently due to other airlines such as easyJet cutting its schedule and also likely to have a strike soon, airport security delays across Europe, and a national rail strike in the UK.”

A No 10 spokesman told the BBC that the government expects BA to put in place contingency measures to ensure little disruption is caused.

Witt said:  “With the cost of living rising, you can’t blame staff for wanting to increase their salaries. However, employers in the travel industry have a difficult tightrope to walk. 

“A two-year black hole in income caused by Covid, followed by the rising cost of fuel and the current airport crisis creates difficulties for any airline. 

“BA will want to do what’s right for its people, but they have to balance the books, otherwise no-one wins and ultimately the biggest losers are the customers.”

The home working agency co-boss pointed out that the BA strikes, should they go ahead in the summer, are only affecting Heathrow, not any of the other airports across the UK.

“We recommend customers book as normal,” he said. “Airports and airlines are working together to minimise disruption and good travel agents will ensure customers are fully protected in case anything does go wrong.”

Witt added: ”Alternatively, cruises from the UK have never been better in terms of ease, offer and value. 

“Sixteen new ocean cruise ships and 12 new river cruise ships have launched since the pandemic. That means there are a lot of surplus beds sailing, and so there are great deals to be had. 

“Cruise is proving increasingly popular with customers and is a huge growth market. It’s a great way to explore various destinations and cut out the stress of going to any airport, even if airports were working normally, which most are.”

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