Originally Posted by Divemaster
Time reports tens of thousands of Spanish truckers began an indefinite strike over soaring fuel costs that could bring the country to a standstill. This could really nail anyone who has to breeze through Spain to a port and if strikes spread to other industries and to other countries we could see folks getting stranded during European travel.
Add to this the fact that many smaller, connecting flight airlines may not make it this fall....
Call me an auditor, but I detect some elevated risk now in overseas travel.
Having returned from Europe a few weeks ago I see a number of issues that are similar to issues we are having here in the U.S. plus a couple more. They too are suffering through high fuel costs that are adding to the costs of goods and contributing to inflation. Their current inflation rates in EU countries is around 3.5 to 4%. Prices reflect this plus the added taxation make goods more expensive than in the U.S.
The "cheap" inter-Europe flights that Europeans were used are also going to be more expensive. They already are. $99 Frankfurt to Rome flights were quite common now they are more than double.
For cruisers, add the poor exchange rate of the dollar ($1.54/1 euro) and Europe is not a great destination for "shopping" or excursions. Tours are more expensive now than in previous years, even if you pay in dollars. If you do some self walking tours and keep your purchasing down a cruise is the best way to "see" Europe without going broke.
The high value of the Euro against the dollar is actually having a negative impact for the EU because this means less European goods are being purchased by the U.S.. This is contributing to their inflation and lowering their GDP. Not good.
In regard to the truckers strike, the same thing may be right around the corner here in the U.S.. It has already happened on smaller scales around the U.S.. My brother is a V.P. for a large trucking company and they are in a world of hurt. They have cut back on the size of their fleet and have raised their rates almost 40% because of high fuel costs. Small trucking companies are either going out of business or are being gobbled up by larger companies for a song. They can't afford the fuel, maintenance and insurance costs to run their fleet. At almost $5.00 for diesel it is almost impossible for an "independent trucker" to make a living. The only alternative is to raise prices so high that it will be passed on to the consumer and we will end up with inflation on the consumer product level. Many inflation statistics remove "fuel" from the equation.
I also see that cruise lines will are also facing problems and challenges that are equal to what they faced after 9/11. With the added cost of fuel, rising air fares and inflation costs they will need to keep competitive with other vacation alternatives plus pull in customers to fill the large fleets they have compiled and still make a profit. It will be a challenge.