18 JUNE 2018


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Article from BTNews 18 JUNE 2018

COMMENT: Jim Armitage - Business Editor, London Evening Standard


The following has been reproduced from The London Evening Standard and BTN agrees with every word. However, with the exception of Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, the leaders of our industry have been sedentary. In years gone by, John King and Colin Marshall would have been to Downing Street to demand action and support. 

Despite Emmanuel Macron’s claims, France is still En Panne

"Pull the other one, Monsieur Macron. For all the French president’s dainty wooing of the City’s bankers at the Elysée Palace — the champagne receptions promising France was no longer a socialist, anti-business throwback — barely any UK-based firms have upped sticks for Paris.

Having been one of thousands stranded on the Continent at the weekend thanks to French air traffic control strikes, I can testify why.

France remains mired in strike-prone, bolshie unionism which no president, however young and handsome, can curb.

Its air traffic controllers have been on strike nine times in the past 12 weeks. This weekend’s disruption has not yet been tallied, but their strikes since 21 March forced 2,827 flights to be cancelled, carrying 410,000 passengers. 

Even if you’re not travelling on the actual day of the strike, as we discovered with easyJet in Zurich, the chaos still hits you. The cancellations and forced re-routing of flights mean planes and personnel are stuck in the wrong airports, crews’ shifts end before slots become available and there are barely enough hotel rooms to put up stranded travellers overnight.

If you thought easyJet, Ryanair and BA are badly hit by all this, pity Air France. Its workers have downed tools on 15 days since February and just announced another four days of industrial action in June. In May, they forced the resignation of the chief executive after he resisted their demands for a 5.1% pay rise. The French rate of inflation? 1.9%.

Meanwhile, Paris commuters have been enduring rolling rail strikes and — last time I was there — blockades and strikes by taxi drivers protesting against Uber. So much for Macron’s free market revolution. Little wonder his efforts to woo the City have largely come to naught. 

As those of us limping back into London a full 24 hours late last night can testify, France is definitely not open for business, no matter what the president would have us believe."

This was written last week.  Nothing has changed over the weekend just passed.  More chaos, more flights cancelled.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Andrew Sharp, United Kingdom

Just had a week in Alsace. The TGV which should ahve gone from Paris to Colmar terminated at Strasbourg, so we had to change to a regional train - leading to a delay of 10 minutes. Coming back on a strike day (17th), there was uncertainty about which trains were running until 17:00 on Saturday - but the trains we were booked on ran. The TGV Colmar - Paris was about 8 minutes late: the Eurostar was about 6 minutes late. Time to spare? Go by air!

Peter Kenworthy, UK

Published only last week.. Last year the UK attracted 6% more foreign direct investment (FDI) projects that the previous year, according to figures compiled by EY in a survey of 450 global investors, but fell behind France, which grew by 31%, and the European average growth rate of 10%. EY said the UK’s market share fell for the second successive year in 2017 and was likely to suffer a further decline as investors said they favoured Germany for the future. France was in second place, supported by the “Macron effect”, and the UK came third.