There has been a rising concern among European airline operators regarding the constant French air strikes which have been going on for a while. A number of major European airlines, such as British Airways, Air France, Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Wizzair, have suffered from the French strikes as flight cancellations and changes in flight schedules were required due to the inability to operate normally. On some occasions, it was not only regular airport employees involved in the strikes but air traffic control strikes, making things even worse.
French Air Traffic Control Strikes
The air traffic control (ATC) in France manages a higher number of flights than any other country on the European continent. The geographical positioning of the country makes it a key factor for travel between the northern parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. The strikes have been ongoing for months and as a result, four major airlines from the aviation market have combined to complain to the European Commission in attempts to prevent France from stopping their flight operations and forcing them to cancel flights. The four main airlines involved in the complaints are Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air, and IAG.
The geographical positioning of the country makes it a key factor for travel between the northern parts of Europe and the Mediterranean
The strikes have mainly been organized by the ATC staff as a form of protest against the French government’s economic reforms. However, this has led to substantial difficulties in the movement of the EU by air and is found as unacceptable by many. The number of strikes in 2018 has grown by 300% in comparison to 2017. Overall, 33% of Europe’s delayed flights have been impacted by France.
The Airlines’ Complaints
The airlines, which have united in their attempts to stop the strikes, have stated that the protests pose a threat to the free movement within the EU, which is a core principle that cannot be broken. The strikes have prevented airlines to operate their flights over member states unaffected by industrial action on services, which travel over France. As a result, carriers are pushed to either find longer routes to access their final destination or cancel flights completely. This dramatically increases the cost of completing flights, due to higher fuel expenses or total loss of customers due to the inconvenience and inability to perform scheduled flights.
EasyJet shared that its expenses will increase by at least 3% on a yearly basis as a result of France’s constant strikes
EasyJet shared that its expenses will increase by at least 3% on a yearly basis as a result of France’s constant strikes. Ryanair reported that during May 2018, the carrier suffered from 1,100 canceled flights, mainly influenced by ATC strikes. Although the airlines altogether understand and support the free right of strikes and protests, the fact is that no progress has been seen since the start of the strikes and the situation is slowly getting out of control.
From January to June 2018, 16,000 flights were delayed and more than 2 million passengers suffered as a result of the strikes.