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A4E. ATC strikes destroy air traffic and economies of Europe

300% increase in ATC strikes in France versus 2017

24 strike days in 2018 have caused 5,000 flight cancellations and thousands of delays, affecting millions of travellers

On the pressing issue about strikes in the European ATC system, which emerged in particular following to the report by the French Senator Vincent Capo-Canellas to the Finance Committee of his government -in which he explicitly accuses France of restraining its obsolete system, with delays and strikes, air traffic in Europe and especially the "Single European Sky"- also stand up to A4E (Airlines for Europe), an international organization of European carriers founded in 2016 by the 5 major airlines of the Continent (Air France-Klm, easyJet, International Airlines Group-Iag, Lufthansa Group and Ryanair), with the following press release:

"An alarming increase in Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes across Europe has wreaked havoc on airlines, their passengers and business. 2018 is shaping up to be one of the worst years ever for ATC strikes in Europe. Year-to-date, A4E member airlines have been forced to cancel nearly 5,000 flights as a result of the strikes, directly impacting around 784,000 passengers across Europe. In addition, millions of travellers have been affected by flight delays caused by airspace diversions and residual backups.

According to Eurocontrol, 39,000 flights –around 30 per cent of the total en-route delays in May- were delayed due to ATC strikes. In addition, Eurocontrol projects total delay minutes for 2018 will be up by 53 per cent compared to 2017 as a result of strikes and capacity shortages (14.3 million in 2018 versus 9.3 million minutes in 2017).

ATC strikes have a costly impact on customers, European economies and the environment. They breach the principle of allowing people and goods to move freely across Europe, because:

1 Customers’ journeys and supply chains are severely disrupted.
2 Diversions to avoid closed air space result in much longer flights and burn more fuel, resulting in higher CO2 emissions.
3 Tourism is most affected due to cancelled flights to prime holiday destinations, putting small and medium size businesses at risk.
4 Airlines have to pay passengers compensation for the delays and rebook them on other flights, significantly disrupting customers’ travel plans and the airlines’ operations. Airlines don’t have the right to recover these costs from the ATC providers who have caused them.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) showed that the economic cost of ATC strikes in the EU between 2010-2017 was €13.4 billion. Last summer, the European Commission said that since 2005 there have been around 357 air traffic control strikes in the EU, 254 of which have occurred in France.

In response to the continued ATC strike disruptions, A4E has proposed a mandatory 72-hour individual notification period for employees wishing to strike, protection of overflights while ensuring it does not come to the detriment of local services, and a guarantee on minimum services to be provided.

IAG and Ryanair’s complaint will argue that by not adequately protecting flights over France, EU law is infringed.

Consumers can also demand swifter action by EU politicians by signing A4E’s online petition: www.keepeuropesskiesopen.com. The petition will be presented to the relevant authorities in Brussels and EU capitals by the end of 2018".

See for details AVIONEWS. 

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