Iata condemns French air traffic control strike

Strike action by French air traffic controllers targeting holidaymakers at the start of the busy summer season has been “strongly condemned” by Iata.

Air traffic management body Eurocontrol estimated that there would be 14,000 hours of delays during the six-day strike which started yesterday.

Ryanair was forced to cancel “up to 220” flights on Tuesday, including some services to and from Stansted, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Dublin and Bristol airports.

EasyJet has cancelled 20% of flights to and from France today and more groundings are expected.

The airline warned 65% of its flights operate over French airspace and are subject to French air traffic regulations, “and as such we are expecting significant delays to many of our flights”.

French authorities are due to meet this morning to discuss the impact of strike action for Thursday.

“Once we receive the update from this meeting, we will be able to provide details of expected disruption for tomorrow,” easyJet said.

Monarch said the level of disruption caused by the strike was “higher than anticipated and customers can expect significant delays this week”.

British Airways aims to publish revised schedules by 2pm each day for the following day’s flights.

But the airline said: “Due to the nature of the industrial action across France, air traffic control slots across Europe are subject to change at short notice.

“All customers are advised to keep checking the very latest news about their specific flight, as more flights could be cancelled throughout each day of industrial action.”

Flybe said: “We have been requested by the French aviation authorities to reduce our flying programme which means we will be required to cancel a number of flights each day.”

Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “Unions bent on stopping progress are putting at risk the hard-earned vacations of millions of travellers, and from the public’s perspective, the timing of the strike could even be regarded as malicious.

“In additional to vacationers, business people undertaking important trips, and those awaiting urgent shipments will all face hassles and uncertain waits as flights are cancelled, delayed or diverted around a major portion of European airspace.”

The strikes are in protest against planned reforms to bring the management of Europe’s airspace “into the modern era” with efficiencies that would be delivered by the ‘Single European Sky,’ Iata said.

“There are more borders in the skies over Europe than exist on land,” said Tyler. “And that comes at a great cost. In 2012, over 130 million hours of potentially productive time were wasted because of delays that could have been prevented with Single European Sky.

“It is indefensible that France’s air traffic controllers are now going on strike in order to perpetuate travel delays in Europe.”

Gocompare.com travel insurance spokeswoman Caroline Lloyd said: “It’s at times like these that the importance of appropriate travel insurance really hits home. Even though these airlines are allowing travellers to rebook flights at another time, a lot of people will be left out of pocket as they have hotel accommodation booked at their destination.

“Out of 550 annual travel insurance policies available on the market, only 240 of those cover cancellation or curtailment of a trip for £5,000 or more, and some insurance policies don’t even cover cancellation, so it’s really important to read the policy documents carefully before you buy.”

She added: “It’s really important when buying a travel insurance policy that every eventuality is covered. Recently we’ve heard of instances of civil unrest in popular holiday destinations like Thailand, and now these air strikes in France could cause holiday chaos.

“Therefore it’s really important that when you buy a travel insurance policy you don’t just go for the cheapest option, but for a policy that will cover the whole cost of your holiday – otherwise if the worst happens, it may be you who is left out of pocket.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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