Be careful if you plan to fly from Nice this Friday. Nearly a thousand flights to France will be canceled by airlines this Friday following a strike announcement from air traffic controllers.
“The General Directorate of Civil Aviation has asked the airlines to cancel one flight out of two. We invite passengers to contact their company to anticipate possible delays and to consult our site”, says the Nice Côte d’Azur airport. And for good reason, almost one out of every two flights, whether departing or arriving, seems to be worried.
Air traffic controllers are demanding pay and hiring increases
The administration on Tuesday called on companies to reduce their flight program in mainland France and abroad by 50% after this social event, at the call of the main union of air traffic controllers who demanded an increase on wages and hiring.
According to the first information announced by the companies, “about 1,000 flights (will) be canceled”, stated a spokesman for the DGAC, specifying that these are aircraft movements that leave or arrive in French territory.
Despite the establishment of a minimum service, “Flight cancellations and significant delays are expected across the country”already warned the DGAC on Tuesday, inviting “Passengers who may postpone their trip and ask their airline to know the status of their flight”.
Impacts on all air traffic in Europe
This strike may also have ramifications for all air traffic in Europe. The administration said it was working “with the manager of the European network (Eurocontrol) to provide measures to the airlines to avoid the national airspace”.
The minimum service will concern the airports, but also the five en route air navigation centers (CRNA), which control the planes traveling in the French airspace and flying at a height 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 (ie 80,000 passengers) flying mostly in France” Friday, without having to land there.
In a press release, the Irish cheap company criticized a “unjustified strike (…) that will only disrupt the travel plans of thousands of European citizens and visitors for the weekend”.
He called on the European Union to “take immediate measures to protect overflights in French airspace”.
Second announcement for the end of September
The National Union of Air Traffic Controllers (SNCTA, majority), which called for this strike, explained that it launched this movement to express their concern “regarding the current level of inflation as well as future recruitments”.
“While the 2023 financial bill, which is currently being drafted, will come to Parliament in October, the absence of guarantees from the DGAC and the public authority is unacceptable”added 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 of separate recruitment from qualification” and training capabilities are “structurally limited”, lined the union. So it is necessary, according to him, to expect this “wall of departures” from next year, and the budget for training.
This strike notice was continued thereafter “reconciliation talks” at the beginning of the week, where “no answer (that) was given by the DGAC and the public authorities” of claims, which consist “a professional challenge”, protested the union.
In addition to Friday’s day of action, SNCTA announced the filing “on second notice” that spread “from Wednesday September 28 to Friday September 30, 2022 inclusive”.
On Wednesday, Air France announced the cancellation of almost 400 of the 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 “Its customers are strongly advised to postpone their trip”causing them to wait or delay their trip “free of charge” and offered by “customers whose flight is cancelled, a credit note or a full refund if they no longer travel”.