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29 strike days by EU air traffic controllers in first half of year

Tourism associations call for 72 hours’ notice of strikes

Ryanair will have to cancel hundreds of flights due to a strike on Friday.

Ryanair will have to cancel hundreds of flights due to a strike on Friday.

In the first half of 2018, EU travellers were subjected to an unprecedented 29 Air Traffic Control (ATC) strike days - 22 of them occurring in France - affecting millions of passengers through delays and cancellations.

The Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism (NET), a grouping of major European tourism trade associations, has joining Airlines for Europe’s efforts to minimise the strikes’ damaging impact on travellers and tourism across the EU.

The Federated Association of Travel & Tourism Agents – Malta is a member of ECTAA, which is in turn a member of NET.

“Travel disruptions caused by ATC strikes have a cascading effect on all other services supplied in the tourism value chain. Flight delays or cancellations lead to lost accommodation, missed cruise connections, travel attractions, etc. We deplore that our customers are ultimately paying for the strikes with lost enjoyment of their vacations,” Susanne Kraus-Winkler, president of HOTREC, the voice of the hospitality industry in Europe and also a member of NET, added.

Tourism is most affected due to cancelled flights to prime holiday destinations, putting small and medium size businesses at risk. Airlines have to pay passengers compensation for the delays and rebook them on other flights, significantly disrupting customers’ travel plans and the airlines’ operations.

Airlines don’t have the right to recover these costs from the air navigation service providers who have caused them, ECTAA noted.

A recent study estimates air traffic strikes have cost the EU economy €13.4 billion since 2010.

Solutions proposed by A4E include a mandatory 72-hour individual notification period for employees wishing to strike, protection of overflights (while not at the expense of the country where the strike originates), and an improved continuity of service for passengers.

In addition, investments are required in technology, processes and human resources to make Europe’s overall air traffic management system capable of coping with ever-increasing traffic, it said.

Travellers can join A4E’s Free Movement Call for Action by signing its online petition at www.keepeuropesskiesopen.com. The petition will be presented to the relevant authorities in Brussels and EU capitals by the end of 2018.

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