Be careful if you plan to fly from Nice this Friday. Nearly a thousand flights in France will be canceled by airlines this Friday following a strike notice from air traffic controllers.
“The General Directorate of Civil Aviation has asked airlines to cancel one out of two flights. We invite passengers to contact their company to anticipate possible delays and to consult our website“, says Nice Côte d’Azur airport. And for good reason, nearly one in two flights, whether departing or arriving, seem concerned.
Air traffic controllers demand salary increases and hiring
The administration had called on Tuesday the companies to reduce their flight program in mainland France and overseas by 50% following this social movement, at the call of the main union of air traffic controllers which is demanding wage increases and hirings.
According to the first information communicated by the companies, “about 1,000 flights (will) be canceled”, declared a spokeswoman for the DGAC, specifying that these were aircraft movements departing from or arriving on French territory.
Despite the establishment of a minimum service, “flight cancellations and significant delays are to be expected across the country”had already warned the DGAC on Tuesday, inviting “passengers who can postpone their trip and inquire with their airline to find out the status of their flight”.
Repercussions on all European air traffic
This strike could also have repercussions on all European air traffic. The administration said it was working “with the manager of the European network (Eurocontrol) in order to offer airlines measures to circumvent national airspace”.
The minimum service will concern airports, but also 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.
Ryanair, Europe’s leading air carrier by number of aircraft movements, said the strike would force it to “cancel 420 flights (i.e. 80,000 passengers) flying mainly over France” Friday, without necessarily landing there.
In a press release, the Irish low-cost company denounced a “unjustified strike (…) which only disrupts the travel plans of thousands of European citizens and visitors for the weekend”.
She called on the European Union to “take immediate measures to protect overflights of French airspace”.
Second notice for the end of September
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 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”adds the union in a press release.
These professionals are particularly alarmed by the planned retirement of a third of air navigation control engineers (ICNA) 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 “wall of departures” from next year, and to budget for training.
This strike notice was maintained after “conciliation talks” at the beginning of the week, during which “no response (has been) provided by the DGAC and the public authorities” to the claims, which constitutes “a provocation towards the profession”, protests the union.
In addition to Friday’s day of action, the SNCTA announced the filing “on second notice” which spreads out “from Wednesday September 28 to Friday September 30, 2022 inclusive”.
On Wednesday, Air France had already announced the cancellation of around 400 of its 800 flights scheduled for Friday, in accordance with requests from the DGAC. This will represent 55% of short and medium-haul flights, while long-haul flights will be less affected, with one in ten flights removed.
“Last minute delays and cancellations cannot be ruled out”warned Air France in a press release.
The French company, which “strongly recommends its customers to postpone their trip”enabled them to anticipate or postpone their trip “free of charge” and offered to “customers whose flight is canceled, a credit note or a full refund in the event that they no longer travel”.