It's a black Friday that is looming in the French sky. Due to a strike notice filed by the largest air traffic controllers' union on Friday, September 16, "eabout 1,000 flights [seront] canceled » tomorrow, a spokeswoman for the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) told Agence Fance-Presse.
The administration clarified that these cancellations concerned both aircraft movements departing from and arriving on French territory. Depending on its scale, the social movement is also likely to cause delays on other routes and could have repercussions on all European air traffic.
Cancellation of 420 Ryanair flights
As of Tuesday, the DGAC had asked the companies to reduce their flight schedule by 50% in mainland France and overseas, after the announcement of the strike. Despite the establishment of a minimum service, "flight cancellations and significant delays are to be expected throughout the territory"had thus warned the DGAC, inviting "passengers who can postpone their trip and check with their airline to find out the status of their flight".
To avoid too strong repercussions on European air traffic, the administration had made it known that it was working "with the manager of the European network (Eurocontrol) in order to offer airlines measures to circumvent national airspace". The minimum service that will be put in place on Friday will concern airports, but also the five en-route air navigation centers, which control aircraft transiting through French airspace and flying at an altitude of more than 6,000 meters.
After Air France, which announced on Wednesday the cancellation of around 400 of its 800 flights scheduled for Fridaythe Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has announced that the strike will force it to “cancel 420 flights (i.e. 80,000 passengers) flying mainly over France”. The first European air carrier by the number of aircraft movements thus denounces in a press release a "unjustified strike" and asks the European Union to “take immediate measures to protect overflights of French airspace”.
Salary and recruitment concerns
The National Union of Air Traffic Controllers (SNCTA, majority), which called for this strike, explained that it had launched this movement to express its concern “about the current level of inflation as well as upcoming recruitments”. "While the 2023 finance bill, currently being drafted, arrives before Parliament in October, the absence of guarantees from the DGAC and the public authorities is unacceptable"adds the organization in a press release.
These professionals are particularly alarmed by the planned retirement of a third of air navigation control engineers from 2029 to 2035. “At least five years separate recruitment from qualification” and training capabilities are “structurally limited”, underlines the union. It is therefore necessary, according to him, to anticipate this "departure wall" next year, and budget for training.
This strike notice was maintained after "conciliation talks" at the beginning of the week, during which " no answer [n’a été] provided by the DGAC and the public authorities” to the claims, which constitutes, according to the SNCTA, “a provocation towards the profession”.
In addition to Friday's day of action, the union announced the filing "on second notice" which spreads out “from Wednesday September 28 to Friday September 30, 2022 inclusive”.