French air traffic controllers (ATCs) will strike again Thursday, May 26, the 48th strike day in France since 2009. As in previous strikes, French ATCs will work on reduced capacity for at least 24 hours from Thursday morning, Airlines for Europe (A4E) said in a statement.
According to A4E, further strikes have been announced from June 3-5 and again on June 14.
“For the seventh time in the past two months, ATCs in France are infringing on people’s rights. The overall impact of these strikes will be immense as they are taking place at a very busy time of the year … The European Commission and governments must act immediately to protect the rights of millions of European travelers affected by this repeated and disproportionate industrial action,” A4E MD Thomas Reynaert said in the statement.
The latest ATC strikes in Greece, Italy, Belgium and France in March, April and May have caused more than 2,500 cancellations among A4E members and more than one million minutes of delay (more than 16,000 hours) across all airlines operating in European airspace.
In 2015, more than 10,000 flights operated by A4E members were affected by 28 days of ATC strikes in Europe, causing disruption to millions of passengers.
The negative impact of ATC strikes on European aviation is a key issue for A4E members, which include Air France-KLM, British low-cost carriers easyJet and Jet2.com, Finnair, International Airlines Group, the Lufthansa Group, Norwegian and Irish budget carrier Ryanair.
Ryanair said in a statement on May 25 it has been forced to cancel over 70 flights on May 26, to/from and over France, with further delays likely.
“This unjustified strike action demonstrates how a tiny French union can once [again] hold European’s skies for ransom with thousands of flights from the UK, Ireland, Spain and Italy canceled—none of which either take off or land in France, [again disrupting travel plans for hundreds of thousands of passengers],” Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said in a statement.
Ryanair and other European Union (EU) airlines have repeatedly called upon the Commission to introduce two simple measures to alleviate the impact of such ATC strikes on consumers as follows:
- Require French ATC unions to engage in binding arbitration instead of strikes to resolve their claims.
- Allow Europe’s other ATCs to operate flights over France while ATC unions are on strike.
“As we approach the peak holiday season, European travelers should prepare for a summer of discontent as there is absolutely nothing preventing these selfish unions from staging even more strikes in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, those traveling to the European Championships should prepare themselves for potential disruption also,” Jacobs said.
European Regions Airline Association DG Simon McNamara said, “With further strikes planned for June in France, both the EU and national governments must put an end to these disruptive and costly strikes that cause misery and delays to both passengers and airlines.”