French air controllers’ strike delays flights across Europe

12 June 2013 (Last Updated June 12th, 2013 18:30)

A strike by French air traffic controllers (ATC) protesting against European Union's (EU) plans to liberalise civil airspace and lower air-traffic charges has affected thousands of flights across the continent and forced cancellations of more than 60% of flights in France.

French ATC Strike

A strike by French air traffic controllers (ATC) protesting against European Union's (EU) plans to liberalise civil airspace and lower air-traffic charges has affected thousands of flights across the continent and forced cancellations of more than 60% of flights in France.

The stike has led to the cancellation of over 3,000 flights across Europe, with more than 2,000 in France alone, as more workers joined the two-day strike that ended on 12 June 2013.

The union for ATC said that 11 countries have participated in the strike, with France witnessing the biggest walkout, which also saw a ripple effect on other European nations.

The strike comes in response to plans by EU regulators to spread out their powers to reduce air-traffic charges and cut down flight routes in the union, challenging national controllers.

Reports revealed that the proposed draft legislation would offer the European Commission more power to enforce performance standards for ATC organisations and would open up bidding on services including weather forecasting and navigation.

"The stike has led to the cancellation of over 3,000 flights across Europe, with more than 2,000 in France alone, as more workers joined the two-day strike that ended on 12 June 2013."

IATA director general Tony Tyler said that reducing delays, cutting emissions, and raising safety levels will create 320,000 jobs across Europe.

"And it can be achieved without air traffic control job losses. Strikes and industrial action are therefore totally unjustified," Tyler said.

During the strike, the UK saw delays, with flights from London's Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow airports were almost stopped.

Ryanair cancelled 400 flights on Wednesday and over 200 flights on Tuesday to/from France and flights that travelled through French airspace.

British Airways has grounded 16 flights, while easyjet has cancelled 200 flights to and from the UK during the strike.

BA said in a statement that the airline intends to operate a full schedule for Thursday 13 June 2013.

"Due to airspace restrictions in and around France, there may also be delays for services to and from Spain and North Africa," the airlines said.


Image: Airlines flying towards France including British Airways Ryanair and easyjet were hit with the strike, which led to several flight cancellations.