Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid

Over the weekend, dozens of Austrian Airlines flights had to be cancelled on short notice due to staff taking sick leave after catching Covid-19.

Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid
(Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austrian Airlines cancelled almost 100 out of 700 planned flights to and from Vienna over the weekend after a large number of employees called in sick with Covid-19, ORF reported.

On Monday, 19 flights also had to be cancelled.

The airliner said that it has already hired 150 flight attendants to assist with the high summer months demand. It said that thunderstorms and an air traffic control strike in Marseille, France, also affected the weekend operations.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Austrian Airlines added that efforts are being made to prevent the cancellation of classic holiday flights. The affected flights are mainly local or to destinations in Europe such as Berlin, Stuttgart, Zurich, Barcelona, or Sofia.

A press spokeswoman for Austrian Airlines told the Ö1 programme that passengers would be informed immediately if their flight changed and rebooked on other flights if possible.

Nevertheless, AUA recommends its passengers check the flight status online at before driving to the airport.

Vienna airport reassures travellers

Austrian Airlines and the Vienna airport had reassured travellers that they were prepared for the summer, as The Local reported.

The spokesperson for the Vienna International Airport has told Austrian media that there were no issues with staff shortages. They currently have about 80 percent of personnel from before the pandemic – while passenger levels are at about 65 to 70 percent of those from 2019.

READ ALSO: Vienna airport reassures travellers over summer holiday concerns

Vienna Schwechat Airport says there were no staff cuts during the pandemic, though some workers quit and others retired.

Also, Austrian Airlines said it has hired 150 new cabin staff for the spring and summer seasons and is “ready for take-off into a summer in full operation”.

Still, both companies had alerted that problems could still arise. For example, issues with other airports were mentioned as possible causes for delays and cancellations.

READ ALSO: Will Austria see travel chaos in airports this summer?

“In Vienna, our partners and we succeeded, particularly through the instrument of short-time work, to keep as many personnel as to possible in employment. But, unfortunately, this is not the case at many other airports we also serve,” explained Austria Airlines spokeswoman Sophie Matkovits.

Covid numbers rising

Another issue is the rising Covid-19 numbers in Austria. According to the Health Ministry, a person who tests positive for Covi-19 needs to go into self-isolation for at least five days.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

Contact cases also need to quarantine if they are suspected of being infected meaning they cannot work and many parents of children who contact Covid can also not work due to having to stay at home and look after their children.

On Sunday, Austria reported 7,093 new coronavirus infections after 80,771 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry. There were 686 people in hospitals with Covid-19 and 46 were in intensive care units.

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Austrian railway workers set to strike after pay talks fall flat

Austria's railways are set to grind to a halt on Monday due to failed negotiations between unions and rail operators, the country's railway system (ÖBB) said on Sunday.

Austrian railway workers set to strike after pay talks fall flat

Austrian railway workers will hold a one-day strike on Monday after another round of negotiations between unions and railway representatives failed.

The fifth round of negotiations over pay rises for 50,000 employees from 65 different railway operators, including the main national operator ÖBB, had failed to come to a resolution.

Vida, the trade union that represents the workers, has asked for a wage increase of €400 – an average increase of around 12 percent.

In response, Austria’s Chamber of Commerce offered an increase of a 8 percent.

With walkouts set to go ahead, there will be no regional, long-distance or night trains on Monday.

“After more than twelve hours of intensive talks, the [two sides] unfortunately did not manage to come to an agreement,” the ÖBB said in a statement.

Cross-border traffic and night travel could be affected, and the ÖBB also warned of “individual train cancellations” on Sunday evening and even on Tuesday.

Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB, said in a statement: “I cannot understand this strike at all. With an offer of 8.44 percent, the ÖBB has made the highest offer of any sector.”

“This is clearly a malicious strike on the part of the union,” he added.

Vida union negotiator Gerhard Tauchner said that they “are fighting for a sustainable cost of living adjustment… which will give relief to those with lower and middle incomes in particular in the face of skyrocketing prices.”

Austria’s year-on-year inflation rate hit 11 percent in October.