Strike impact felt across Europe

Passengers across Europe face significant delays after French air traffic controllers launched strike action as part of a three-day protest against reform of the region’s airspace.

All airlines using major French airports such as Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris Beauvais, along with airports in Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, Marseille and Toulouse have been asked to cancel half of their scheduled flights.

Some 1,800 flights were cancelled in France Tuesday after the French CAA asked airlines to cut their flights to and from Paris and other cities to avoid last-minute mayhem on the day of the strike.

British Airways have said it will have ‘significant’ cancellations while easyJet has cancelled approximately 128 flights per day. Germany’s Lufthansa cancelled over 170 flights from Tuesday through Thursday.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair said it had had to cancel more than 100 flights, adding that passengers were being “taken hostage” and calling on the European Commission to put an end to controllers’ strikes.

French air traffic controllers are protesting against EU latest plans to create a single European airspace, claiming the project termed Single European Sky (SES) II+ will affect public safety and working conditions.

The union action coincides with the release today by the European Commission on June 11 of the SES II+ package of measures. Brussels says this initiative’s goal is to speed up the reform of Europe’s air traffic control system – increasing capacity, reducing flight delays and cutting fuel costs and emissions while fully preserving high safety levels.  The proposals, it says, could save €5 billion per year.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) called last month for a European day of action to demand the establishment of a fair, cooperative and social Single European Sky (SES) and to ‘stop a never-ending process of liberalisation, deregulation and cost-cutting in the ATM industry’.

EUBusiness.com reports controllers in 11 EU countries will take industrial action on Wednesday in protest against plans to create a single airspace for the bloc.

Controllers in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia will work to rule, ETF chief Francois Ballestero said Tuesday.

Other forms of industrial action including public information campaigns will take place in Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, Hungary and Latvia, he said.

ETF said SES2+, based on market principles, top-down approach and cost reductions, would jeopardize safety and the number and quality of jobs.

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