13 MARCH 2017
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Airlines are bracing themselves for a season of discontent amid signs last week’s strike by French air traffic controllers (SNCTA) could herald more disruption ahead, particularly at Easter and over the summer peak.
Last week’s five-day action, called by ATC staff at Brest, Bordeaux and Marseilles, ended on Friday with Airlines for Europe (A4E) estimating 1,500 flights had to be cancelled over the week.
The group added: "We are sure that this won't be the only strike in 2017 and we see a risk not only for Easter, but also the summer holiday season."
To cope with last week’s troubles, airlines were asked to cut their flight schedules by 25% as operations over France, including links from the UK, Italy and Spain, faced congestion.
Some 800 flights were cancelled over the first two days of the week, and up to 300 more on Wednesday and Thursday, with British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Flybe among carriers affected by cancellations and serious detours.
Ryanair was again one of the most vociferous critics, saying: "It’s a disgrace so many customers are having their travel plans disrupted while the EU Commission and French government stand idly by as ATC Unions once again hold Europe to ransom.” The airline is organising an anti-strike petition on its website.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Henk Heiden, Netherlands
I fully agree with the comment of Ryanair. It is now very urgent that there becomes a European law that ATC centres from other countries directly can take over the traffic if the French are on strike.