ATC unions point finger at airlines for delays

Airlines themselves are by far the largest cause of delays, accounting for more than 50 per cent of all delays in air traffic, according to union organisations representing Europe’s controller workforce.

The official Eurocontrol data behind the causes of flight delays and their economic impact was released at a joint press conference of the European Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) on March 27 in Brussels where a new study was presented.

ATCEUC and ETF last month branded the use of statistics and information in the current campaign being led by European airlines group A4E  as “deceitful”, aimed at the manipulating EU institutions, passengers and stakeholders and “repeating messages about the … controller strikes in the hope that the force of repetition leads to general acceptance”.

Charles-André Quesnel, chair of the ETF Air Traffic Management Committee, commented: “The airline lobby hired their own audit company to fabricate a study that would suit their needs. It disregards official EU statistics, doesn’t reveal the data sources and its methodology is highly questionable. We can only conclude that their study’s sole aim is to harm trade unions and undermine fundamental rights.”

Volker Dick, ATCEUC president, added: “Instead of creating a hostile atmosphere by spreading dubious data to discredit their counterparts, the European airlines and the other aviation companies should address the underlying causes of social unrest. Only adequate investment in staff, technology and infrastructure will improve company’s performance and deliver the much-needed expansion in capacity.”

“However, airlines and their new lobby association are increasingly questioning those fundamental rights under the guise of the alleged damages caused by ATC strikes. Official data show that by far the largest share of flight delays is the airlines’ responsibility, accounting for 51 per cent of primary delay over the period of 2010-2015 whereas industrial action accounted only for about 1 per cent of the total delay in 2015. ATC strikes would count for less than 6 per cent of flight cancellations.”

Both ATCEUC and ETF insisted they are committed to the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Civil Aviation. Last year, they agreed jointly with the European ATM employers’ organisation CANSO upon a ‘Toolbox for Successful Social Dialogue’ aimed at preventing conflicts and promoting good industrial operational cooperation.

François Ballestero, ETF political secretary concluded: “We call upon European airlines to genuinely engage in constructive discussions at all levels aiming at establishing a qualitative social dialogue between companies and workers’ representatives, which is the best pre-requisite way to prevent industrial action and limit their impact before relationships break down.”

Read CANSO, A4E airlines sign co-operation pact

Watch “Efficiency​, capacity and growth in European aviation” on #Vimeo 

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