It’s a summer that promises to be sunny and warm weather-wise, at least next week, if not the next. On the transport side, no cloud on the horizon either concerning attendance: the airports will be full, Air France anticipating in particular “a strong recovery” this summer. After two years marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the SNCF is also counting on a “record summer”, the level of reservations exceeding the end of June by 10% that, already record, of 2019 on the same date.
For the BlaBlaCar platform, activity in 2022 should be similar to that of 2019, with 4.5 million travelers expected this summer on its carpooling and bus network. The European number one in leisure residences Pierre et Vacances provides for its part “occupancy rates of more than 90%”, better than before the crisis.
But, for all that, strike movements in transport or even higher prices than in recent years, particularly for car rentals, could disrupt holidays. On Wednesday July 6, the four representative unions of the SNCF – CGT, Unsa, SUD-Rail and CFDT – had called for a strike to demand wage increases in the face of galloping inflation. On the TGV side, 3 out of 5 trains ran on the East axis, 3 out of 4 trains on the North and Atlantic axes and 4 out of 5 trains on the South-East axis, according to SNCF Voyageurs. Local traffic in Ile-de-France was also very disrupted. The management noted a strike movement “more important” than those of the last months, with 20% of strikers at the national level, but 35 to 40% among the drivers.
Another strike, this time in Paris airports, ends. The employees of the Parisian airports voted this Friday, July 8 in the morning the lifting of their strike notice after having obtained salary increases. The strike notice, which had been filed until Sunday evening, was to be formally lifted this Friday at 6 p.m., according to CGT union representative Daniel Bertone. The end of the conflict should therefore make it possible to avoid disruptions in the airports of the Paris region, which are expecting tens of thousands of travelers on this first weekend of major summer departures.
Employees of the manager of Paris airports, the ADP group, including firefighters, went on strike last weekend to demand a salary increase. In addition to delays, this resulted every day in dozens of preventive cancellations of flights departing from or arriving at CDG for security reasons: runways at the leading French airport had to be closed.
But another airport social movement emerged this Friday, in Bordeaux-Mérignac where 50 flights had to be canceled. The strike for wage increases and improved working conditions is scheduled until Monday 11 July.
Questioned by AFP, Jean-Pierre Mas, the president of Travel Companies (travel agencies), fears “terrible problems in air transport, availability, regularity and waiting at airports, because of strikes announced”, but also “the lack of personnel and the lack of anticipation of the situation”.
The flight disruptions observed in recent days have caused concerns for travelers with regard to their luggage. “Rerouting all of the delayed baggage to its destination will take up to several days,” Air France CEO Anne Rigail said in a message to customers on Monday. She offered her “deep and sincere apologies”. Some 17,000 pieces of luggage were affected. The situation stems from “social movements which very seriously disrupted the operation of baggage sorters” on Friday July 1 at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) declared Anne Rigail.
ADP acknowledged that the strike had affected baggage sorting, but only up to 15 flights out of 1,300 on Friday July 1, or 1,500 bags. According to a spokesperson, it is “a computer problem at the level of the companies (which) caused the greatest damage”. For many travelers, the problem is still not solved a week later. Since Tuesday evening, however, 10,000 pieces of luggage have been returned to their owners, reports Le Figaro.
Passengers deprived of luggage on arrival and having incurred basic necessities (clothing, hygiene products) may request reimbursement from the company. If the luggage has not been found within 21 days, its owner may be compensated up to some 1600 euros, with supporting documents, under the terms of the Montreal Convention governing certain aspects of air travel.
Another disappointment for some travellers: car rental prices which are at very high levels. For reservations made in May and June 2022, for the summer holidays, the average price in France was 494 euros per week, double that of 2019, specifies Le Monde. “Unheard of,” said Pierre Feisthauer, development manager at Carigami, a specialized price comparator, interviewed by the daily. “We are in a spiral which has lasted since May 2021 and which has only worsened”, he explains. In a press release published in May, Carigami specified that “the expected price increase in France this summer is, on average, 41.3% compared to 2019”, the reference year. The increase is 117% in three years at Figari airport, in Corsica, and 107% in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes).
The current situation is due to Covid-19. In the first months of the pandemic, due to confinement, car rental companies have in fact massively reduced their car stocks, insofar as immobilization is expensive. Without a clear perspective on the evolution of the pandemic and with limited cash, after the summer of 2020, car rental companies placed minimal orders for the following year.
To this was added the shortage of electronic components, essential to the engines, again linked to the Covid-19 pandemic but also to the economic war between China and the United States. This crisis caused a sharp drop in the production of new cars. Of the 200,000 cars delivered each year to rental companies before the pandemic, only half should remain, mentions Le Monde. Fewer offers but as many requests, result: prices are soaring and the purchasing power of holidaymakers is in free fall.