Air traffic controllers to strike as talks collapse

Hopes that a strike by French air traffic controllers could be averted seemed to be dashed on Tuesday as unions said that talks had been broken off. It is likely airlines will have to cancel scores of flights.

Air traffic controllers to strike as talks collapse
Passengers can expect disruption during strike. Photo: AFP

Leaders of the main SNCTA union which represents almost 50 percent of air traffic controllers said late on Tuesday that negotiations with the government had been broken off after eight fruitless hours.

“Everyone takes their responsibilities,” said Roger Rousseau, national secretary of the SNCTA union, who accused the government of “opting for a stand-off”.
Unless there is a dramatic turn around aviation authorities will be forced on Wednesday to ask airlines to cancel scores of flights.
The last time the SNCTA union held a strike in April it resulted in about 40 percent of flights in France being scrapped.
Hopes a strike could be avoided when other unions announced over the weekend that strikes planned for Tuesday and Wednesday this week were called off.
Nevertheless the union SNCTA along with Force Ouvrière, which represent just over 50 percent of air traffic controllers, confirmed their intention to strike on Thursday and Friday, which coincides with the start of the French holiday season.
The industrial action is motivated by a desire to improve salaries and working conditions and unions complain about a rise in air traffic but a drop in the number of controllers.
We'll have more updates on the planned industrial action throughout the week.

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France crowned champions of air traffic control strikes

Hindered by strikes and outdated equipment, French air traffic control is responsible for a third of aviation delays in Europe, a report in France claimed on Monday.

France crowned champions of air traffic control strikes
Photo: AFP

Between 2004 and 2016, French air traffic controllers were on strike 254 days, while second-placed Greece only had 46 days of stoppages, Italy 37 and Germany four, according to a senate finance committee report seen by Le Parisien newspaper. 

“Every day of a strike in France has a much bigger impact on European traffic than (strikes) in other European countries”, the report's author, senator Vincent Capo-Canellas, noted after six months of work including numerous field visits.

In addition to frequent industrial action France is also the champion for delays, linked to obsolescent equipment, the report said.

“Our country is responsible for 33 percent of delays due to air traffic control in Europe,” Capo-Canellas said, representing 300 million eurosannual losses for airlines.

“In France, the control equipment is outdated,” and maintenance costs are high at 136 million euros a year, added Capo-Canellas. 

“We are way behind our neighbours,” the senator complained, despite France having spent more than two billion euros to modernise air traffic control since  2011.

The report also noted that the 4,000 French air traffic controllers have to cope with a sharp increase in traffic each year.

They controlled more than 3.1 million flights in 2017, up four percent from 2016 and 8.6 percent from 2015.

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