The French air traffic control strike came to an early end on Wednesday 25th June 2014. The strike of the Unsa-ICNA union was planned to run from Tuesday 24th up until the 30th June because of a lack of sufficient funding for a sector which is in dire need of modernisation. It was found that the systems used in France to enhance radar monitoring and for the separation of air traffic dates back to the 1980s and the tools used to control air traffic are in desperate need of change. In addition to this, the air traffic controllers were protesting because they believe that airport fees for airlines should be increased by 10%. Even though the strike was planned to last six days, the strike turned out to last just 48-hours as the government soon recognised the strike’s importance.
The strike was deliberately initiated during the height of the tourist season in France in order to cause chaos. Even though the strike was cut short, it still caused major disruption to flights across Europe. The reason for this was because the initial staff walk-outcreated a knock-on effect that then created a huge backlog of flights. The main airlines affected by the strike were Air France, easyJet, Ryanair and Vueling. Budget airline easyJet had to axe more than 100 flights while Ryanair was forced to ground 200 flights. France was ultimately at a standstill but the strike caused widespread disruption over the whole of Europe mainly in Spain, Morocco and Portugal. It was estimated by France’s civil aviation body that around one in five flights going to and from the South of France were cancelled. Airlines were forced to cancel hundreds of flights that touched on France’s airspace. Over 600 passengers were stranded in Paris Orly Airport on the Wednesday, unable to fly.
The airlines have stated they are deeply disappointed that passengers have had to endure such heavy delays, as it can be an extremely stressful time for passengers. Airlines cannot be held accountable for every flight delay, which is why passengers cannot always claim airline flight delay compensation for their loss of time. The French air traffic control strike took airlines by surprise and they did not anticipate the mayhem that subsequently followed. In normal circumstances, if a passenger is delayed for a minimum of 3 hours then they could essentially claim compensation for delayed flight entitling them to 250, 300, 400 or 600 Euros. This cannot be said for the air traffic control strike as it is regarded as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’. However, please remember that airlines are not entitled to use the air traffic control strike as an excuse for knock-on effect delays and so passengers may still be able to claim for flight delay compensation. It all depends on the circumstances of the delay. If you are unsure about whether your flight is eligible for compensation then contact a flight delay refunds company such as Blueway Limited. They will be able to assess the validity of your claim and let you know whether you can claim any money back or not.