More than one million passengers were affected as 1,500 flights had to be cancelled as a result of one of the longest strike by air traffic controllers in Europe last week.
The estimate came from lobby group Airlines for Europe (A4E) as airlines started counting the cost of groundings and more than 5,300 hours of delays due to the industrial action by French air traffic controllers.
Staff at control centres in Brest, Bordeaux and Marseille walked out last week forcing airlines to reduce schedules in France by 25% plus overflying links from the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
Airlines were forced to fly detours of hundreds of miles to avoid French airspace. Adjacent airspaces had to be regulated at the same time due to the additional additional traffic.
A4E urged passengers to sign its ‘Keep Europe’s Skies Open’ petition to urge Brussels to act to prevent further future disruption.
Managing director, Thomas Reynaert, said: “It is devastating to see that more than a million passengers suffered from this year’s first ATC strike.
“We cannot wait anymore – European and French policy-makers need to implement measures capable of minimising air traffic management disruption’s impact on travellers.
“Political, operational and technological solutions exist for a problem that affects the whole continent. These solutions would allow to limit the impact of such strikes on travellers and business, without questioning controllers’ fundamental right to strike.
“Travellers can unite and let out their frustration about the continuous travel disruptions supporting our petition ‘Keep Europe’s Skies Open’.
“We will present this petition in Brussels to urge the EU Commission and the EU Parliament to finally take action. Holidays and the summer break are ahead of us as possibly the next strikes.”
A4E has called for the compulsory minimum of 72 hours notification of participation in a strike and an “upper airspace evolution” away from geographical dependency, enabling European passengers to make uninterrupted journeys throughout the continent.
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