By on February 22, 2010

You don’t want to be traveling in or to Europe these days. In Germany, Lufthansa’s pilots went on strike this morning, grounding 3200 planes. “The largest strike in the history of German aviation” (Die Welt) paralyzed German air traffic, and caused jams on the ground as travelers switched from planes to trains and automobiles.

Meanwhile next door in France, a nation is running out of gas. Workers at the six refineries owned by the country’s biggest oil group, Total, have been striking for more than a month. The work stoppage threatens to spread “to the two French oil refineries owned by US group Exxon Mobil, where strikes are planned for Tuesday,” reports the BBC.

“The government will take measures to ensure that France will not be locked down,” Industry Minister Christian Estrosi said in a radio interview, without elaborating on how they will do that.

Setting the law of supply and demand on its head, the strike in France is being blamed for the fact that “oil prices topped 80 dollars a barrel on Monday as a strike at French energy giant Total rattled the market,” AFP says. Ah, there are also “concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.”

Let’s just hope that striking refinery workers in France will not resort to the ancient tradition to blow up their factory. It could really be – inflammatory.

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27 Comments on “Travel Advisory: Avoid Europe...”

  • avatar

    Last week there were also reports of fuel shortages (and photos of cars being pushed into gas stations) in Greece due to strikes there ahead of a General Strike called for this coming Wed.

  • avatar

    “The French are revolting!”

  • avatar

    Tourism is a pretty significant source of income for Greece (and Italy), so all these strikes aren’t going to help in that area.

    Add on to that the rants of several European politicians claiming that the economic troubles are all America’s fault, and 2010 may be a good year to see the USA.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Don’t want to spoil a snazzy headline, but… there are trains, you know? Like, the world’s second-best railway network? And deregulated airways — I won’t miss Lufthansa; I flew Ryanair to from Germany to Norway the other week for $50, return. The truth, I would say, is: travel in Europe, even with plenty of strikes, is still plenty more convenient than in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar

      Only catch is you have to go by bus for an hour or more to get from the so-called “Oslo-airport” to Oslo itself.

    • 0 avatar

      In France, “the average resident rides heavily subsidized high-speed trains just 400 miles per year. Despite punitive fuel taxes, they drive 7,600 miles per year”

      Fact is, more Europeans travel by car than by any other means.

  • avatar

    There is nothing new in the fact that the French are sawing off the branch they’re perched on. French strikers/rioters think they can gain some advantege over their neigbor through such actions, maybe one day reality will catch up with them, too!

    But, how Lufthansa pilots can strike when the world’s airlines are fightning for survival, is beyond me? Maybe they assume the party is coming to an end, so each man should grab whatever possible before hitting the streets – oops, skies!

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but people have been saying that reality will eventually catch up with the French for centuries and yet it stubbornly never seems to actually happen.

      And to add insult to injury the French continue to predominantly eat a high-fat diet yet suffer far less heart disease than most other nations.

    • 0 avatar

      “There is nothing new in the fact that the French are sawing off the branch they’re perched on. French strikers/rioters think they can gain some advantege over their neigbor through such actions, maybe one day reality will catch up with them, too!”

      Well maybe you could get a shot of reality yourself. The strike began because Total wants to transfer the last remaining Dunkirk raffinerie to Saudi Arabia, not for some “advantage” on their neighbors, unless of course you think SA is next to France. But if it’s so I guess your case is hopeless…

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Strikes are a result of a breakdown in Talks between Management and the Workers, its always a last resort in all cases, if you live in a democratic country that’s the way it is, would you rather live in a Dictator ship? These are my own opinions on this matter, but over all Workers the World over are being pushed to give up rights they have bargained for over many years, only because the current Governments don’t know how to manage the Economy that we have at present. Don’t blame the Workers and don’t compare Countries where the Books have been “fudged” to look good when they were not good like certain countries that have Hosted Olympic events!

    • 0 avatar

      When your company is in turmoil and trying to save money (or slow losses) any way they can, going on strike and putting the company further into the red isn’t exactly the best way to go about things. Especially in the airline industry, which is shriveling like a prune these days, this is not a wise idea. I’m just glad to see that the stupid union mentality isn’t just an American thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I don’t have a problem following your argumentation, but one of the problems that riddle Europe these days, is the Berlin Wall between those that inside and those that are outside. Those that are inside are first and foremost government employees and unionized workers. Young people have a hard time finding jobs, and almost no chance of finding jobs paying enough to move out of Mama’s house. This polarized workplace is accentuated even more through the militant behavior of The Insiders. I will spare you more of my rants, suffice it to say I put my money where my mouth is in my work as an independent consultant, in a market where there are few rights and many obligations!

    • 0 avatar

      Partly true. Except that your kind seems to think that “insiders” should be turned into some kind of sub-lumpenproletariat so your lot could squeeze them more. BTW, if you got the feeling you have few rights and lots of obligations may I suggest that you start a revolution.

  • avatar

    What is your take on the UK? I am expecting to go there soon and stay for a at least 6 months. THX,Autobraz.

  • avatar

    You know, despite all the talk about Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys, the French apparently will fight for their livelihoods in a way that, eg, Americans or Canadian (“Sigh, guess my job’s done gone. Better see if Walmart’s hiring”) never seem to.

    Good for them. The rank-and-file middle class aren’t the ones that flushed their respective economies down the tubes, so why are they expected to a) socialize the losses of those who are responsible and b) join the race to the bottom.

  • avatar

    When you throw a wet blanket on the jingoistic distillation of a nuanced and esoteric situation, it takes the fun out of being ignorant.

    Best sentence in the post. So far.

  • avatar

    Please let the strike last until June or July. I really want to have an excuse to avoid taking the wife to Europe.

  • avatar


    Tell her that all the European vacations you can find detour through Sweden, then I will send you an email with pictures of my female Swedish relative and her friends (who, without exception, fall someone on the scale from stunning to jawdropping). Vacation cancelled.

    On a different note, French employers had better start asking their employees to show up for work shoeless, just to be on the safe side.

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