Families warned to prepare for half-term travel disruption as farmers’ protests spread across Europe

Farmers protests spread across Europe
By Linsey McNeill
31/01/2024
Home » Families warned to prepare for half-term travel disruption as farmers’ protests spread across Europe

A UK operator is warning clients due to travel over the February half-term to prepare for delays due to road blockades by French farmers.

Farmers in other European countries, including Belgium, Germany, Greece and Italy have also joined in the protests against strict European Union rules on land use and fertilisers, which they say are hitting their profits.

In Spain, farmers have indicated they will also join the protests next month.

Farmers have been demonstrating across France since mid-January, blocking major roads with tractors and hay bales.

On Tuesday, they surrounded Paris, choking major roads in and out of the capital. They also blocked roads leading to and from Disneyland Paris.

In Belgium, travel in and out of the port of Zeebrugge was gridlocked on Tuesday due to protests by Belgian farmers.

Skiers travelling to and from airports across France including Lyon, Grenoble, Toulouse and also in Geneva have been caught up in traffic jams caused by the tractors and, in some cases, burning hay bales blocking the motorways.

Ski Line Managing Director Angus Kinloch is concerned farmers might step up their action at the start of the February half-term holiday, month, causing potential chaos for British families.

Most schools in the UK break up for a week on Friday 9 February so the majority of families heading for the Alps will be leaving on Saturday 10 or Sunday 11 of February.

The UK half-term also clashes with the half-term holiday for about a third of French school children. “If protestors are planning anything in the region, the 10th will be the main target,” said Angus. “That will maximise publicity as Paris families drive to the Alps that weekend.”

He said he’s worried that the narrow roads leading up to ski resorts are an easy target for demonstrators.  

“Gossip in the Alps is that local farmers in the region already have made plans to target the peak week,” he said. “Supermarkets, motorway junctions and routes up the mountains to ski resorts, are obvious targets.”

While Angus said clients shouldn’t change their travel plans, he said he is warning customers by email of possible disruption. 

“Most of our clients travelling on the 10th and 11th are families, some with very young children. Skiers shouldn’t change travel plans (unless they can afford a helicopter) but making sure your travel insurance covers for delays is probably a good idea in France right now.

“Ski Line recommends packing additional drinks and snacks, nappies and baby milk for the journey and be ready for possible long delays. It’s a good idea to download a film or bring games or books to keep children amused or be ready for long games of eye spy. We hope our fears come to nothing.”

Angus pointed out that local police are used to dealing with delays caused by avalanches, icy roads and heavy snow, and he said the industry has worked well to keep skiers moving up the mountains during previous protests.

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