The Times reports that British airlines are using a loophole to fly planes with European crews, avoiding the need for British work visas. British Airways, easyJet and Tui have all also “wet leased” EU-registered aircraft as they struggle with chronic staff shortages.
The move allows the carriers to work around post-Brexit rules which require EU staff working as crew on UK-registered planes to have a British visa.
In other moves to alleviate more impending airport chaos, easyJet has signed eight aircraft from Latvia’s SmartLynx Airlines. Seven will operate out of Gatwick and one out of Bristol. Tui has borrowed five of the Latvian jets to fly out of Manchester, Gatwick and Doncaster. It also has signed two planes from Avion Express, a Lithunian airline, for flights out of Gatwick.
British Airways has borrowed four aircraft from its Spanish sister Iberia and four from Finnair, despite having planes in storage.
Industrial action adds to airport chaos
The same newspaper reports that waves of industrial action across Europe are also set to ground flights in the near future. Pilots and cabin crew at Brussels Airlines are planning to walk out from Thursday to Saturday this week, coinciding with a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
The strikes have been called over union claims that work pressure is too high. They say senior staff at Brussels airline, a subsidy of Lufthansa, have been aware of the situation for about a year but have failed to address it.
Yesterday it was announced that Ryanair pilots in Belgium would join the cabin crew in walking out next weekend from Friday to Sunday. Union staff at the airline say negotiations on a new labour agreement had broken down. Ryanair staff who are members of various unions in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France are also due to strike in the coming days. Members of two unions in Spain have voted to walk out from Friday to Sunday but also on June 30 and July 1 to 2 in a dispute over labour conditions and pay. Staff based in Portugal will strike from June 24 to 26; those in Italy on June 25; and France on June 25 and 26.
COVID-19 in Madeira: updates can be found in an earlier post
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