Last updated: 11:17 AM ET, Wed July 01 2015

French Air Traffic Controllers Call For Strike

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | July 01, 2015

French Air Traffic Controllers Call For Strike

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French air traffic controllers, still embroiled in a bitter labor negotiation, will strike at dawn on Thursday for 48 hours unless an 11th-hour compromise is reached.

It will be the latest in a series of short strikes that began last year as the air traffic controllers union seeks concessions on mandatory retirement age and better working conditions.

But however short they might be, these 24- and 48-hour walkouts – or industrial actions, as the French call them – wreak havoc on airlines. And not just Air France.

Any airline flying over French airspace is at risk of having flights canceled and service disrupted. Already Air France has told The Guardian, “Negotiations are still going on between the involved parties. If this industrial action is confirmed, French Civil Aviation Authorities will give instructions to all airlines. Accordingly to these instructions, we will adjust our flight schedule.”

Between this and questions swirling around the Greek economy, tourism could suffer a significant blow in Europe this weekend.

“We expect significant impact to our flights during this period,” an easyJet spokesperson told The Guardian.

Said a British Airways rep: “At this stage we do not know how many flights we will be required to cancel. If the strike goes ahead, we will look to use larger aircraft.”

Budget carrier Ryanair is fed up with the strikes and has launched a petition asking for the European Union to ban the right to strike. Known as "Keep Europe’s Skies Open," Ryanair is looking to reach 1 million signatures before presenting the petition to the European Commission.

“It’s unacceptable that Europe’s consumers repeatedly have their holiday and travel plans disrupted or canceled by the selfish actions of ATC unions every summer, who use strikes as a first weapon rather than a last resort,” Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told the paper. “If the EU won’t listen to the airlines, perhaps they’ll listen to Europe’s citizens.” 

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