28 Jul

Ask the experts: Sean Tipton, ABTA’s media relations manager

The following article was originally published in the July 2022 edition of ABTA Magazine here.

Have a burning question you can’t find the answer to? Send us your query for an expert response. This month, it’s Sean Tipton, ABTA’s media relations manager.

Customers are now beginning to ask me how strike action may impact on their summer holidays many of them are very worried. Do have any recommendations on what kind of advice or reassurance I might be able to give them?

I’m not surprised that you are starting to get these kind of enquiries as the media has started to concentrate on potential strike action as the latest continuation of the “travel chaos” narrative.

The first thing to do is to provide some context. When unions are negotiating with employers and they have reached deadlock, threatening strike action can be the next step to take to achieve their aims for their members. It can be seen as a further negotiating tactic, and in the vast majority of cases a compromise is reached and the strike is called off. It isn’t unusual for the threat of a strike in the run to the summer holidays.  It is a busy time of year, so unions know any strike would have a much greater impact on travellers.

Of course, some strikes do go ahead and employers will then often implement contingency plans to minimise their impact. If the strike involves airline staff and your customer’s flight is cancelled, they will have the significant protection of the Denied Boarding Regulations and if they have booked a package, their tour operator will also look to protect their holiday arrangements or offer a suitable alternative. If Air Traffic Control strikes go ahead they can result in delays or longer flight times as aircraft may reroute, but they do not generally last for long periods of time.

The pandemic has created its own set of special circumstances which have made the threat of strike actions more common this year and sections the media will always be keen to throw more fuel on the travel chaos bonfire, but I hope my answer will help you to calm the concerns of your worried customers and get them back to where they should be – looking forward to their well-deserved breaks.