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Photo: Aéroports De Paris

ATC strike grounds hundreds of flights

Hundreds of flights are being cancelled or delayed as the first French air-traffic control strike of the summer takes hold.

Workers at DSNA, France’s air-navigation provider, stopped work at 19:00 local time on May 8 May and will not reappear until 06:00 on Friday.

The 35-hour stoppage is part of a wider national protest against President Macron’s plans to reform working conditions, The Independent points out.

Because so many flights in Europe overfly France, widespread delays and cancellations are expected. The French authorities warn of a minimum service level of 50% of overflights.

Switzerland is reported to be opening up additional airspace sectors to take some of the strain.

However, Paris Charles de Gaulle has not itself suffered cancellations, as air-traffic controllers are expected to work at close to normal levels. The biggest impact is likely to be in southern France.

ATC shake-up
Meanwhile, European airline chiefs have called for an air traffic control shake-up, including more competition and faster training, to ease summertime bottlenecks, Reuters reports.

The number of passengers in the EU hit by ATC delays rose by 26% last year to 334 million, according to the lobby group A4E.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary called the high charges for the use of airspace despite strikes and staff shortages a “scam” and demanded that training for new controllers fall to six months from the current two to three years.

“We can train someone to fly an airplane in six months – not to be a captain but to fly the plane. Air traffic control is a fundamentally simple process. It is not complicated,” he told Reuters.

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