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Political strikes in Finland to cause major travel delays next month

Travellers in Finland will be faced with major air traffic disruption next month after several trade unions on Friday announced 48-hour industrial action against the government’s planned labour market reforms.

Major delays and flight cancellations are expected across the country and airports are likely to close after members of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL), which represents about 12,000 airport workers, are set to join the two-day walkout planned from 1 to 2 February.

National carrier Finnair in a statement said it is “currently assessing the extent of the impact” on its flight schedule, adding “it is already now clear that the political strike will have a significant impact on Finnair’s operations, and will result in flight cancellations”.

The carrier said it has approximately 60,000 customers whose travel plans may be affected by the strike and is now offering those customers the option to change their booking.

Travellers with a Finnair booking between 31 January and 3 February can now choose to travel earlier or postpone their travel until 15 March, 2024, according to the carrier.

“It is clear that the strike will cause flight cancellations, and we hope that as many customers as possible will find a suitable replacement flight well in advance and thus can avoid uncertainty in their travel plans,” said Jari Paajanen, vice president, operations control at Finnair. “We also ask customers to be patient, as our customer service may become congested due to the situation.”

While no changes have yet been made to the carrier’s flight schedule, Finnair said it will start cancelling flights once the effects of the strike on Finnair’s traffic have become clearer. 

“We communicate directly to customers about changes to their flights as soon as flight cancellations are made,” Paajanen added.

As well as flight delays, further disruption is expected across airport ground services, baggage handling and food and beverage catering for flights during the industrial action. The wide-ranging political strike is also likely to affect public transport and services at banks, supermarkets, hotels and child care.

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