European holiday makers witnessed an unprecedented spectacle last weekend when a July 23rd strike by Italian air traffic controllers was called on and off twice.
However, thousands of passengers still saw their travel plans disrupted when airlines had to cancel more than 100 flights to and from Italy even though the planned eight-hour strike was called off at the very last minute, as the notice provided was insufficient to reinstate the cancelled flights.
“Airlines need to be able to plan ahead to prevent disruption for passengers.
“In this case the strike was called on the June 20th, cancelled on the July 21st, reinstated on July 22nd in the afternoon, and finally cancelled later that same evening due to various interventions by the courts and government.
“This is undoubtedly the ludicrous peak of a summer which could make history with a record number of ATC strikes.
“Even if airlines did their utmost to minimise disruption last weekend, cancellations could not be avoided anymore, and passengers had to suffer from the uncertainty created by Italian air traffic controllers,” said Thomas Reynaert, managing director of A4E.
“We are not questioning the individual right of workers to take industrial action, but strikes should be the last step not the first one.
“We cannot allow 15,000 air traffic controllers infringing the rights of millions of European travellers.
“The reputation of Europe is under threat and we call on the European Commission and national governments to act now to ensure Europe economic growth is not damaged, jobs are not affected and the daily life of Europeans is not impacted by this disproportionate action,” added Reynaert.
A4E last month released a new study on the economic impact of ATC strikes in Europe.
The analysis revealed that between 2010-15 the overall impact of these strikes reduced European Union GDP by up to €9.5 billion.
Especially southern European states suffer more than others from ATC strikes because passengers are unable to reach their holiday destination.
During the same 2010-15 period there were 167 ATC strike days in the EU - one disrupted day every 13 days.
In total there were 213 disrupted days if you take into account the days before and after an ATC strike as flights had to be cancelled proactively in advance and accumulated delays spilt over to the next day.