Airlines in France have issued warnings of a possible ATC strikes in the future. As part of what some refer to as the “Summer of Discontent,” it appears that several thousand European passengers may face travel disruptions in the coming weeks leading up to the school summer vacation period thanks to these strikes.
Reports state that these strikes will be followed by industrial action. The strikes are expected any time between 5 June 2016 and 14 June 2016. These strikes will most likely result in increased flight delays, flight cancellations, and possible detours across the European continent. Airline for Europe, an industry lobby group, have issued details regarding the upcoming ATC strikes and their possible outcomes.
On 26 May 2016, it was reported that the French Air Traffic Control performed at lowered capacity. This was a day after the strikes were announced. It is believed that the French Air Traffic Control had been performing at reduced capacity since March 2016, and 26 May 2016 marked the 48th strike since 2009.
Simon McNamara, the Director General of the European Regions Airline Association, has released a statement saying that the responsibility of handling the highly disruptive strikes as well as their expenses must be handled by both the European Union and concerned national governments. He went on to say that these strikes were the reason behind delays and distress to both airline carriers and passengers.
The history of ATC strikes
Over the past few months, ATC strikes have been independently responsible for several major flight delays, disruptions, and flight cancellations. Several European countries such as Belgium, France, and Greece have been constantly facing these strikes since a while. During the months of April and May 2016, members of Airline for Europe witnessed a total of 2,500 cancellations across the continent. This accounted for more than a million minutes of delays within European airspace.
Despite alerts issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the ATC strikes affected public transport and ferry services in Greece on 27 May 2016. In 2015, Europe saw a 28-day strike that led to the disruption of more than 10,000 flights operated by the members of Airlines for Europe.
The ATC strikes have already caused several airlines to cancel numerous flights. British Airways had to cancel around 40 flights to and from France. RyanAir had to cancel around 75 flights, 12 of which were from the UK. Most of the cancellations affected routes to Spain and other regions such as Luton and Basel.
How can these strikes be addressed?
Thomas Reynaert, the Managing Director for Airlines for Europe, stated that the strikes that had occurred over the last two months in France had infringed on people’s rights. He mentioned that the overall effects of these strikes would be rather drastic, considering the fact that they are taking place during a very busy period of the year.
With no end to these strikes in sight, he further added that the industry was headed toward a summer of frustration for customers. He added that the European Union and local governments should address these issues as soon as possible to safeguard the rights of European travelers, who fly into the continent in the millions, from this disproportional and repetitive industrial sabotage.