Temperatures in Europe are heating up – and so are strike-related travel disruptions.
Hundreds of flights were grounded over the weekend throughout Europe as airport and airline staff took job action at the height of the busy summer travel period.
According to The Guardian, thousands of travellers in Italy were left stranded on Saturday (July 15) as roughly 1,000 flights, both domestic and international, were cancelled due to a strike organized by airport grounds crew.
Another 120 flights scheduled to depart and arrive from Belgium’s Charleroi airport were also scrapped on Saturday and Sunday due to a work stoppage led by Ryanair’s pilots, who are fighting for improved working conditions.
Reports say the strike in Italy alone left some 250,000 air travellers stranded in one of the world’s busiest spots for tourism.
The scorching temperatures outside only amplified the stressful situation further.
Italy is in the middle of a record heatwave, recording temperatures of at least 40C (104F) in Rome and 48C in the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, reports say.
The news come as the travel industry remains on high alert for travel interruptions after Europe's peak travel season was plagued by cancellations last year.
This summer, air traffic control issues are said to be a weak spot, according to warnings from Eurocontrol, which manages flights in Europe.
Eurocontrol says one of its unions could soon take labour action – although no official dates have been announced just yet.
Europe on strike
Meanwhile, some 950 workers at Britain's Gatwick airport, including ground staff, baggage handlers and check-in agents, will strike due to a pay dispute from July 28-Aug. 1 and from Aug. 4-8, the Unite trade union said on July 14.
Ongoing air traffic control (ATC) strikes in France, linked to President Emmanuel Macron's plan to raise pension age, have also caused delays, limiting operations across the country, which is only congesting European air space further.
In Portugal, EasyJet recently cancelled 350 flights ahead of a cabin staff strike from July 21-25, the SNPVAC union of civil aviation flight personnel has said.
Over in Spain, pilots at Iberia Regional Air Nostrum, who had been striking every Monday and Friday since Feb. 27, announced a daily indefinite strike from June 6 amid a pay conflict.
Over the weekend, Italian Transport Minister Matteo Salvini called on striking workers to exercise "common sense" so as "not to harm millions of other workers and tourists."