Airlines have been asked to reduce their flying programmes by 30% as French Air Traffic Control staged its seventh strike this year.
According to airlines lobby group A4E the latest walkout, which is due to continue into today, has seen 1,000 flights cancelled, lengthy delays and detours.
Control centres at airports in Paris (Charles de Gaulle & Orly), Beauvais, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes have been on strike since Monday evening in support of a national strike in France.
The Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC) requested airlines to reduce their flights in France by 30%, but also services overflying France have been affected.
Thomas Reynaert, managing director of A4E, said: “The impact of the seventh strike day in France this year will be quite significant: airlines have been forced to reduce their flight programme by a third.
“We expect to see escalating delays throughout the day, forcing airlines to cut back on their flight programme even further.
“Given France’s its geographical location, ATC strikes in France and the reduction of capacity in French airspace considerably penalises passengers throughout the continent.”
Studies for the European Commission and for A4E have revealed that seven out of ten European ATC strikes since 2005 have taken place in France.
During the same period France accounted for 252 strike days while 15 other EU countries have not experienced any ATC strike at all.
Reynaert added: “Two-thirds of all European ATC strike days are taking place in France – French controllers are on strike 24 days, annually.
The European economy, its tourism and trade sectors pay a high price for French ATC strikes, namely €1.4 billion per year.
“We have no intention to question the fundamental right of workers to defend their interest, but we call on the French government to improve the situation.
“Solutions such as a compulsory 72 hours individual notification of participation in a strike, the protection of overflights while not at expense of the country where the strike originates, or an improved continuity of service have been identified. The French authorities now need to take action.”
A4E also called for a better social dialogue and an upper airspace evolution away from geographical dependency enabling European passengers to make uninterrupted journeys throughout the continent.
The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) said it had significant concern regarding ATC industrial action in France.
Paula Bangle, general manager business development, membership and communications at ERA, said:
“The strike action in France this week is causing misery to thousands of passengers as their travel plans are disrupted.
“The impact on airlines, businesses and passengers is considerable and costly. Airlines not flying to France will also be effected as they will have to fly around French airspace adding time, delays and fuel costs.”
ERA said it encourages greater communication and discussions between all stakeholders involved to avoid this type of action and urged the EU and national governments to act now to stop any future disruption.
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