30 MAY 2016


© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.

Article from BTNews 30 MAY 2016

COMMENT: A fishy smell from Europe

The general odour of fish surrounding some of the tactics being employed by those who wish Britain to remain in the EU becomes more apparent by the day. 

Listening in, one wonders how the country ever managed its economic affairs before Brussels, Strasbourg and all their hangers-on hove into view. And as for the rule of law, don’t get us started… 

One is sorely tempted to ask if Italy, Spain and Greece (and there are probably more) can get into such a mess inside the union, how could they be worse off outside?

Immigration is another obvious factor in the debate but anybody attempting to discuss it is shouted down and accused of racism; there are reports that unrest at the policy in Germany and elsewhere is ignored by the media on pain of official sanction. When did we last hear from Chancellor Merkel on the subject? 

BTN has no stance on whether we should Remain in or Leave the EU but when the subject begins to impinge on travel, we have a say. Which brings us to the matter of the apparently everlasting strikes in France and now Belgium by transport workers and others anxious to demonstrate their prowess at holding ordinary people to ransom by paralysing air traffic, petrol stations and whatever else they can disrupt. 

Travellers to France faced further misery on Thursday as air traffic controllers walked out for the seventh day of strike action in two months, with airlines warning some flights to Europe would have to be cancelled, while flights that travel through French air space would be subject to delays.

Ryanair, to its credit the most vocal of those demanding action from the EU generally and France in particular, cancelled dozens of flights, and British Airways said it would operate larger aircraft on some routes and re-introduced its more flexible rebooking policy to encourage passengers booked on affected flights to postpone their trips.

BA warned of the possibility of further strikes on 3, 4 and 5 June at the end of the half-term holiday and further strikes are planned for 14 June.

Meanwhile, Eurostar on Friday stopped selling tickets on services to and from Brussels tomorrow, 31 May, due to a planned 24hr national strike in Belgium, starting at 22:00 today.

Even if some or all of the action is called off at the last minute, it is too late to reinstate all those flights and journeys and ruined holidays and business trips.

In an atmosphere of strange complacency by some airlines it took Thomas Reynaert, MD of the lobby group Airlines for Europe, to sum it all up.

“We are,” he said, “hurtling towards a summer of disruption and frustration for customers."

Right on, Tom. Will somebody please do something?

Index/Home page

OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Bob Schumacher, LON

I am not sure what the correlation is between EU membership and the current industrial action in mainland Europe? Is it concern that this is 'yet another' supposed European disease that might spread here through continued membership of the European Union? (Or might it simply be a lazy journalistic association from someone with an anti-EU axe to grind?) Are our memories so short - or is that our editor doesn't use Southern, or the Underground(?), to realise that strikes related to changes in working practices and conditions have echoed around our own travel sector over recent weeks, months and, yes, many, many years? We might not agree with the motives, but we are surely not immune on this island. We are in the inter-dependent business that is global travel, and we should surely be worldly-wise enough to reject the utopian fantasy of strong and splendid isolationism for the fallacy that it is. It appears the younger generation get it. It's their future we will be considering when we vote.

Peter Barron, United Kingdom

Why is it always the Remain crowd who scream foul everytime that someone utters a Leave preference. They have the support of a very biased BBC, most Press and the majority of the Government not to mention the Lib Dems and the Labour Party and yet are still losing the argument. I thought that the basis of your article was to highlight how weak the institutions within the EU and certain partners are in tackling these basic industrial relations issues. They are a form of secondary picketing which was outlawed in the UK many years ago. Are we welcome the return of this if we Remain?

David Starkie, United Kingdom

If the air travel industry is pretty unanimous in its support for Remain (as asserted by John Baxter-Smith) then it is much to BTN's credit that it gives the opposing view, if that is what it is. What puzzles me is: if the economic case for Brexit is so dire, as all the official reports seem to indicate, why was the country steered by the Government to a referendum? A serious error of judgement from those now asking for their judgement to be trusted?

Brian Donohoe, Ecosse

The beginning of this is as bad as the NATS wanting Independence in Europe ..It's a contradiction of Terms........

jim Ritchie, london

Course there is a simple way to stop this. The government could withdraw it\\\'s anti union legislation. That\\\'s the root of the dispute.

Stan Abbott, Durham UK

Don't say you are neutral when you clearly aren't!

Donagh Cagney, Brussels, Belgium

Opening remarks do indeed seem very one-sided. Aviation in he UK will be impacted by strikes on the continent, irrespective of whether Britain is in our out of EU. Ditto Eurostar. It is very misleading (and also a bit 'fishy') to attempt to conflate the issues.

Laurie Price, Horsham

Disruption or otherwise, being outside the EU would be bad for the UK economy, security and opportunity. How do you change matters and confront groups like French controllers if UK is outside the EU? If some of our non attending MEPs started behaving more responsibly then maybe they might have more influence!!

John Baxter-Smith, Haywards Heath England

BTN Takes no stance eh? The openng remarks certainly seem one sided. The Brexiteers have peddled more than a few untruths you havent mentioned that. As far as BTN is concerned i think the air travel industry is pretty unanimous in its support for remain - the benefits for the industry and more so for the traveller are irrefutable.