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“In France, the control equipment is outdated,” and maintenance costs are high at 136 million euros a year, added Capo-Canellas.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