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French strikes causes flight delays in Europe

UK airlines have been forced to cancel hundreds of flights today due to strikes by French air traffic controllers. Ryanair says it has cancelled 45 flights to, from and over the country today; British Airways cancelled 46 flights, while EasyJet cancelled 38 flights.

Air France has also cancelled many flights due to the air traffic control strike but workers at the French flag carrier are also planning to strike tomorrow.

The strikes have mobilized Airlines for Europe (A4E), which represents airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways’ parent company, IAG.  The lobby group has warned European passengers that they face an entire week of disruption due to the wave of air traffic control (ATC) strikes. Airlines have been asked to reduce their flight offerings in France by 25% and more than 1,000 flights are expected to be cancelled. Brest and Bordeaux control centres will be affected from 5am on Monday until 7pm on Friday, with the action in the south of France running from 5am on Tuesday until 5am on Friday. Not only flights serving Paris are affected, but also services overflying France, including links from the UK and Italy, Switzerland and Spain. Furthermore, travellers have to expect severe delays.

“Already during the first weeks of 2017 European travellers become victims of yet another ATC strike – unbelievably, not only for a day but for a whole week. A4E urges the Commission to protect the rights of European travellers and work together with Member States, Air Navigation Service Providers, unions and other stakeholders to minimise the impact on passengers,” said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of A4E.

“We cannot allow a small group of Europe’s 15,000 air traffic controllers restricting the rights of millions of European travellers. Following our Call for Action last year we have seen a positive reaction by some unions. It is now the right moment to build on that and minimise the impact of strike actions without questioning the individual right of workers to take industrial action,” he added.

Last month the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), representing Europe’s air navigation service providers, agreed to work together with A4E to enhance the performance of Europe’s air traffic management network in the future. Both organisations recognise that, where measures to help minimise the impact of industrial action on passengers are not already in place, for example a compulsory minimum of 72 hours notification of participation in a strike, these should be implemented by European States where possible and practical.

During the 2010-16 period there were 217 ATC strike days in the EU – one disrupted day every nine days. In total there were 278 disrupted days if you take into account the days before and after an ATC strike as flights had to be cancelled in advance and accumulated delays spilt over to the next day. Since 2010 the overall impact of ATC strikes have cost €12 billion to the EU economy, associated with more than 140,000 jobs.

Date: March 6, 2017

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