UAE summer holidays: Will flights to and from Europe be affected by airport strikes?

Residents' travel plans remain unchanged, and instead of cancelling, they avoid cities prone to strikes and choose to fly to another city in the same country

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Angel Tesorero

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Nandini Sircar

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Waheed Abbas

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Passengers entering the departures area in terminal 3 at Dubai international Airport, in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, on August 16, 2022. Photo: AFP
Passengers entering the departures area in terminal 3 at Dubai international Airport, in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, on August 16, 2022. Photo: AFP

Published: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 3:07 PM

UAE residents are keeping their travel plans unchanged as flights between the Emirates and most European cities are not currently impacted by air traffic control strikes gripping the continent this summer.

"We have made no changes to our UK flight schedule for the remainder of the year," a spokesperson from Wizz Air told Khaleej Times. "We know there will always be disruptions outside our control, but we have made every effort to prepare for the peak summer period and ensure passengers arrive on time."


The Abu Dhabi-based low-cost carrier spokesperson added, "We started preparing for the summer season last September and have invested £90 million to make our operation more resilient and agile. We have built more time into flight and crew rotations to make schedules more robust and implemented a new AI (artificial intelligence) tool to better forecast for and mitigate against possible disruptions."

'Operating as normal'

Major UAE airlines are operating normally but also closely monitor the situation at European airports. A spokesperson from Dubai-based Emirates confirmed that their flights to and from Europe are currently unaffected and will immediately announce if anything changes.


A spokesperson for national carrier Etihad told Khaleej Times on Tuesday evening: "Our flights are currently operating as normal between the UAE and Europe. As always, we continue to monitor and plan for any industrial action or disruption which may impact our flights."

Travel agents in the country have also confirmed that their clients are keeping their planned summer travel the same.

Raja Mir Wasim, manager at International Travel Services, said: "We have so far not received any queries about rescheduling or rebooking flights. Outbound travellers from the UAE have so far shown no concerns.

"Late last month, a few passengers inquired about delays at the immigration at Heathrow Airport. Passengers who were supposed to travel shortly raised concerns regarding these issues. Some passengers asked about flights to other airports around London, like landing at Stansted Airport or Manchester Airport instead. But as the security staff called off the strikes, everything, to date, remains smooth," he added.

T P Sudheesh, general manager at Deira Travel and Tourist Agency, likewise expressed a positive outlook. He said: "So far, we have not received any circulars about these strikes impacting significantly. We haven't got any such queries that bother or impact outbound travellers."

He added: "It's too early to speculate the impact of the strikes in different European countries as it is on different dates and at some places it pertains to security staff and at other places it is by the Air Traffic Control (ATC). Therefore, as of now, we haven't received any queries or concerns from passengers."

Customer preference

"Instead of cancelling, UAE residents avoid the cities where strikes are taking place and choose to land in another city of the same country," Avinash Adnani, managing director of Pluto Travels, noted.

He explained: "Travellers are aware of strikes at European airports and airlines as they follow the news. Hence, they avoid airlines and airports prone to strike and fly via other routes. During the strike at European airlines, the load increases to Gulf full-fledged carriers, which is beneficial."

What's happening?

Air traffic control (ATC) strikes are gripping many European cities. At Birmingham Airport, terminal technicians will begin continuous strike action from July 18. Pilots at Iberia Regional Air Nostrum went on a daily indefinite strike from June 6 amid a pay dispute.

On Monday, British airline EasyJet said it would cancel about 1,700 flights to and from London's Gatwick Airport during the current peak summer season. The airline pointed to strike action by air traffic controllers for the flight cancellations.

ATC strikes in France have also led to delays and limited flights across the country, and there are other issues at various airports across Europe.

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