Expatica news

Pilot strike at Portuguese airline causes travel misery

Dozens of flights were cancelled on Saturday as pilots working for the Portuguese airline TAP staged a 24-hour strike to protest deteriorating working conditions.

After modifying or cancelling the reservations of around 27,000 of 42,000 passengers expected on Saturday, the company announced the cancellation of 36 flights ahead of the walkout.

But on Saturday long lines of angry passengers formed around TAP counters at Lisbon’s airport as dozens of additional flights were dropped.

“My flight to Bologna was cancelled so we’re stuck. Perhaps we can leave tomorrow but I’m very irritated,” said an Italian tourist travelling with her husband and three children.

The strike did not affect flights returning to Portugal from abroad and a dozen links to the Azores and Madeira.

The state-owned airline also ran a number of flights to destinations with large Portuguese communities.

By chartering several planes and crews from other airlines TAP was able to operate 150 of the 350 scheduled flights.

“All flights to Brazil and Africa have left, which means that there are some pilots who have not joined the strike,” said TAP spokesman Andre Serpa Soares.

The strike was called in late July in protest over worsening working conditions, and despite a promise by TAP to increase overtime pay for the pilots.

Delays in the delivery of six Airbus aircraft that TAP acquired from other companies have led to a series of postponements and cancellations of flights in recent months, sparking discontent among passengers.