16 September, 2023

Calling off French ATC strike is only a temporary reprieve unless concrete action is taken warns boss of European airline association

Thousands of rugby fans were breathing a little easier after French air traffic control (ATC) workers called off their strike during the week. This would have been the 38th strike day by French ATC workers which is more than the total combined number of strike days in the rest of Europe.  

While it is a welcome development that French ATC has headed to the negotiation room over the picket line, this is only a temporary reprieve unless concrete measures are put in place to manage the impact of ATC strikes in Europe. 

A4E respects the right to strike but given the level of disruption experienced this year, it has presented a series of actions that would ensure European passengers can continue to fly freely including the protection of overflights, while also ensuring this is not at the expense of departures and arrivals in the country where the strike originates. This temporary reprieve highlights shows how measures such as a 21-day advance notification of strike action and mandatory arbitration can have a positive impact for passengers. 

So far this year, ATC strikes have resulted in over 4,000 flight cancellations, over a million minutes worth of flight delays and ruined the plans of hundreds of thousands of passengers. 

Ourania Georgoutsakou, Managing Director of A4E, said, “Airlines and passengers are breathing a collective sigh of relief with the postponement of the latest ATC strike in France. Not only would this have created chaos for thousands of rugby fans during its global showpiece, but it would also have led to disruption right across Europe.” 

“While we commend French ATC workers for entering negotiations rather than the picket lines, both the EU and national governments need to ensure this is not an exception but the norm when it comes to ATC strikes in Europe. A4E has set out measures to do so and these should be implemented without delay.”