” Of the delays and cancellations last minute are not to be excluded”, noted Air France Wednesday. The company seemed to touch the truth. The day of this Friday promises to be very difficult for users of French air transport, affected by a strike by air traffic controllers which could disrupt European traffic.
This decision was taken on Tuesday following notice from strike launched by the SNCTA (National Union of Air Traffic Controllers) and concerns both metropolitan France and overseas. Consequently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) asked the companies to give up half of their flight program on Friday, that is to say “about 1,000 canceled flights” departing from or arriving on French territory.
Increase in salaries and bonuses
The SNCTA, the majority union among air traffic controllers, decided on this movement to demand increases in wages offsetting inflation, as well as recruitment. Air France announced on Wednesday a salary increase of 5% to all its employees, accompanied by a bonus of 1,000 euros.
The minimum service will concern in particular airports and the five en route air navigation centers (CRNA), which control aircraft transiting through French airspace and flying at an altitude of more than 6,000 meters.
420 Ryanair flights canceled
Ryanair, the leading European air carrier by number of aircraft movements, said that this “unjustified” strike would force it to “cancel 420 flights (80,000 passengers) mainly flying over France” on Friday, without necessarily landing there. .
The SNCTA stressed that it had decided on this movement to express its concern “about the current level of inflation as well as future 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,” added the union. These professionals are particularly alarmed by the planned retirement of a third of air navigation control engineers (ICNA) between 2029 and 2035.
400 Air France flights canceled
However, “at least five years separate recruitment from qualification” and training capacities are “structurally limited”. It is therefore necessary, according to them, to anticipate this “wall of departures” from next year, and to budget for training in this direction.
This notice was maintained after “conciliation discussions” at the start of the week, during which “no response (was) given by the DGAC and the public authorities”, according to the union, which speaks of “provocation”. The SNCTA announced the filing of “a second notice from Wednesday September 28 to Friday September 30, 2022 inclusive”.
Complying with requests from the DGAC, Air France has decided to cancel around 400 of its 800 flights scheduled for Friday. This will represent 55% of short and medium-haul flights, while long-haul flights will be less affected, with one in ten flights removed.
Air France, which “strongly recommends its customers to postpone their trip”, allowed them to anticipate or postpone their trip “free of charge”, and offered, “for customers whose flight is canceled, a credit note or a refund integral in the event that they no longer travel.
Multiple social conflicts have erupted in recent weeks in the European aviation sector against a backdrop of record inflation. At the end of June and beginning of July, hundreds of flights had to be canceled at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport due to a strike by employees of the manager, Groupe ADP. On Wednesday, the company separately announced that it would grant a 5% pay rise to all its employees, together with a bonus of 1,000 euros, in response to the increase in the cost of living.