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French ATC causes third of delays in Europe

A new report says that air traffic control strikes and old equipment cost airlines €300 million each year.

France’s air traffic control causes one third of all flight delays in Europe, a French parliamentary report admits, causing around €300 million in losses each year for airlines.

The disruption is caused by strikes by the country’s air traffic controllers as well as power outages due to antiquated equipment, the Guardian newspaper quotes the parliament’s finance committee as saying.

“Our country is responsible for 33% of the delays due to air traffic control in Europe,” Vincent Capo-Canellas, the report’s author, states.

And the situation is unlikely to improve as France’s 4,000 ATC employees face ever-increasing growth in air traffic. Last year there were 3.1 million flights in Europe, which is 4% more than in 2016 and 8.6% more than 2015.

“We are a long way behind our neighbours. The control equipment is antiquated,” Capo-Canelas added – despite the fact that €2 billion has been spent modernising air traffic control since 2011.

Rolling strikes
France’s ATC workers were on strike for a total of 254 days between 2004 and 2016, far more than their counterparts elsewhere. In second place were controllers in Greece, with 46 days.

Ryanair warned last week that there would be an airspace “meltdown” unless action is taken quickly to stop the regular strikes by French air traffic controllers.

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