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The Most Expensive Airline Strikes of 2019



Another year has been marked with several airline strikes that cost the aviation industry billions of dollars. Eurowings Cabin crew even welcomed the New Year with a strike that ran from December 30 to January 1.

As a result of a strike, airlines are liable for flight compensation.

The following list was made by GIVT to get a better understanding of just how large the scope of air passenger compensation was in 2019.

British Airways has a streak of bad luck throughout 2019. August and November saw hundreds of flight cancellations after experiencing expensive “IT glitches.” This was followed by members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association striking over their pay, causing 2,325 flights to be canceled.

This strike cost the airline €137 million ($152,858,435.00). Even a rumor or a proposed strike can cost an airline millions. A strike in Heathrow was canceled before it even began, yet set British Airways back another €33 million ($36,816,285.00).

Nationwide strikes have not been doing any favors for the struggling Alitalia. Alitalia had to cancel hundreds of flights during Italy’s national transport strike from July 24-26, with the prospect of more strikes still to come. Meanwhile, Iberia has also had a difficult year. The summer saw issues between management and staff, with canceled flights up 40% and delayed flights doubling on average in July and August alone.

Lufthansa had to cancel 1,300 flights in November due to a two-day strike over pay rates and conditions. To compensate the 180,000 affected, Lufthansa offered train tickets to passengers traveling between German airports and alternative flights to other passengers.

Norwegian Air had pilots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark strike over fears of all operations being moved to the UK after the airline set up UK base of operations. In addition, Norwegian cabin crew members at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport issued strike warnings in April for increased pay and improved work conditions. The April strike did not come to fruition, but new strikes are scheduled from October 2019 – January 2020.

Mavericks Ryanair faced controversy amongst their pilots and cabin crew in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal in 2019. However, due to Ryanair’s policy of employing other strike-breaking crews from other countries, the strike had little impact on service for customers. Ryanair customers would experience an increase in delays in January, February, April and August and an increase of cancellations in January, Ryanair’s overall cancellations for 2019 were 70% less than in 2018.

Scandinavian Air Services (SAS) was not as lucky, as a 6-day pilot strike in April cause 4,015 flights to be canceled. With an estimated 360,000 passengers affected, the potential compensation could cost up to €90 million ($100,408,050.00).

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