- Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes seriously affect the functioning of the internal market.
- Airlines support protection of overflights to ensure continuity of service.
- Suggested solutions need fast adoption of Single European Sky proposals to be successful.
Today, the European Commission published its Communication “Aviation: an Open and Connected Europe” in an effort to enhance airspace efficiency and connectivity. The Commission rightly encourages Member States and stakeholders, including social partners, to take action to improve service continuity in air traffic management.
“The latest announcements by the European Commission are an important step towards protecting European passengers and the single market in case of ATC strikes. At the same time, the Commission needs to ensure that Member States implement its recommendations. Limiting the impact of Air Traffic Management strikes on travellers and business, without questioning controllers’ fundamental right to strike, is a key objective of A4E. We now need courageous policy-makers in Europe to help implement these best practices”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of A4E.
The Commission notes in its analysis that ATC strikes affect the functioning of the EU single market. They pose a most complex challenge to Air Traffic Management as they result in significant flight cancellations and serious delays, leaving passengers stranded at airports and bringing tourism to a standstill.
“We need to keep our feet on the ground because there is still a long way to go to have these proposals implemented. There are some important proposals by the Commission such as unions providing early notification of strikes; staff members to provide individual notification of their participation to industrial action and the protection of overflights of Member States affected by strikes ensuring 100% continuity of service. Member States also need to swiftly adopt the Single European Sky proposals to enable European passengers to fully benefit from seamless air travel across Europe”, concluded Reynaert.
During the 2010-16 period, there were 217 ATC strike days in the EU – one disrupted day every nine days. In total, there were 278 disrupted days if you take into account the days before and after an ATC strike as flights had to be cancelled in advance and accumulated delays spilt over to the next day. Since 2010, ATC strikes have cost €12 billion to the EU economy, associated with more than 140,000 jobs, according to a study carried out by PwC for A4E.
Airlines for Europe (A4E) is Europe’s largest airline association, based in Brussels. Launched in January 2016, the association consists of Aegean, airBaltic, Air France KLM, Cargolux, easyJet, Finnair, Icelandair, International Airlines Group (IAG), Jet2.com, Lufthansa Group, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP Portugal and Volotea, and plans to grow further. With more than 550 million passengers on board each year, A4E members account for more than 70 per cent of the continent’s journeys, operating more than 2,700 airplanes and generating more than EUR 100 billion in annual turnover.