Airline passengers across Europe could suffer more than 1,000 flight cancellations and severe delays this week after French air traffic control (ATC) strikes kicked off today.
According to Airlines for Europe (A4E), which has the likes of Air France, EasyJet, Finnair, IAG, Lufthansa and Ryanair as members, the five-day action being held at Brest and Bordeaux control centres will result in the cancellation of over 1,000 flights.
Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways have all cancelled flights today, including a batch of UK flights.
Airlines have been asked to reduce their flight offerings in France by 25 per cent, as services flying over France, including links from the UK, Italy and Spain, are also affected.
“We cannot allow a small group of Europe’s 15,000 air traffic controllers restricting the rights of millions of European travellers," said Thomas Reynaert, managing director of A4E. "Following our call for action last year we have seen a positive reaction by some unions. It is now the right moment to build on that and minimise the impact of strike actions without questioning the individual right of workers to take industrial action."
From 2010 to 2016 there were 217 ATC strike days in the EU, and including days before and after the strike action when flights were also affected in advance, that rises to 278 days.
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A4E said that since 2010 the overall impact of ATC strikes have cost €12bn (£10.4bn) to the EU economy, associated with more than 140,000 jobs.
Irish airline Ryanair, which had to cancel 45 flights today, has been particularly vocal over the issue. Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the French government and European Commission "cannot stand idly by and allow another summer of disruption and misery for European consumers to take place".