Airline CEOs unite to protest over ATC strikes

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore June 29, 2016 20:40

Airline CEOs unite to protest over ATC strikes

The CEOs of Europe’s largest airlines, joined EU policy-makers, tourism boards, consumer groups and research centres at an event where the airlines issued a call for action in order to reduce the impact of air traffic controllers’ strikes on Europe’s economy.

Since 2010, Europe’s skies have been disrupted 213 days due to strikes from air traffic controllers (ATC) forcing A4E member airlines to cancel 30,000 flights across the continent. More than two million passengers saw their flights cancelled, while others experienced delays of more than 6 million minutes directly affecting their travel plans. This affects cross border trade, tourism, business, and investment.

“Air travel is a crucial enabler of economic activity in Europe, directly affecting the wider tourism industry, businesses across most sectors of the economy, and job creation. Even a small increase in air travel can bring substantial socio-economic benefits, especially in areas of Europe affected by high youth unemployment. To ensure an efficient European network providing a crucial conduit for trade, tourism and economic growth, our call for action outlines nine principles to promote free movement by air, reliable airspace and prosperity”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of Airlines for Europe A4E.

Solutions exist to minimise the negative impact of ATC strikes on the mobility of Europeans. Some of the suggestions put forward by the airlines in their call for action include for air traffic controllers and their unions to voluntarily commit to:

•    Participate in arbitrary or conciliatory procedures, before taking industrial action.

•    Protect flights overflying the country affected by industrial action while ensuring this does not come at the expense of flights to and from the country affected.

•    Provide a 21-day advance notification of strike action.

•    Provide a 72h advance notification of participation in industrial action, at individual employee level, so that airlines can better anticipate the level of disruption.

•    Implement cooperation mechanisms to explore means to minimize the impact of ATC service disruption.

A4E challenges all signatories to the “Call for Action” to also consider longer term, more ambitious solutions, such as:
•    Service provision by one or a group of third country ANSPs over the country affected by strike action.

•    Right of redress with ANSPs for the impact of disruption resulting from strike action, to encourage constructive engagement in industrial relations disputes.

•    Minimum service provisions.

“It is about time we work together to reduce the impact of these strike actions. Although we fully respect the right to industrial action, the demands of increasingly mobile European citizens and businesses cannot be taken hostage by localized industrial action”, added Reynaert.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore June 29, 2016 20:40