30 March 2023
By Tom Collins
Allow other countries’ air-traffic controllers manage flights crossing France – says Cork based MEP
“It is simply farcical that ongoing strike action by French Traffic Controllers is causing the cancellation of flights that aren’t even taking off or landing in France,” said Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.
Kelleher was commenting after it was announced that further strikes will continue into the month of April. This comes after 22 such strikes took place in March 2023 compared to three strikes in the corresponding period in 2022.
“No flights that are only flying over France, and not to or from the country, should be affected by what is a domestic industrial relations dispute.
“The French are entitled to strike if they choose to, but they cannot hold the rest of Europe hostage. The cost to airlines is huge in terms of compensation for delayed or cancelled flights. Ultimately, these costs have to be passed onto customers in terms of higher airfares
“Ireland, in particular, is being heavily impacted by these strikes as many of Ireland’s busiest routes need to fly over France to reach their final destinations. As we move into the summer, popular holiday destinations in Spain and Portugal could be impacted if these strikes continue.
“A solution exists already. In the short term, we should allow other air-traffic control bodies to manage flights flying over France until the strikes are concluded.
“Longer term, we need to move away from individual countries operating semi-independently, and begin the process of developing what is known as the Single European Sky” concept. The European Commission believes such an initiative would assist in the ‘de-fragmenting the European airspace, reducing delays, increasing safety standards and flight efficiency to reduce the aviation environmental footprint.’
“The current situation cannot be allowed to continue. Peoples’ holidays should not be ruined in this way. It’s just not fair,” concluded Kelleher.