Updates on the Future of Air Traffic Control Strikes in France:
Since 2005, Air Traffic Control (ATC) in France has experienced a record 249 days of strike, compared to other EU countries with an average of 10 days (with Greece having 44 days).
The pension reform initiated by the French government in 2023 led to 53 days of strike.
Not only do strikes greatly affect the traffic in France, but they also affect all aircraft flying over regions near the French territory. Numerous flights have been delayed or cancelled all over Europe as a result.
Business aviation operators have been limited in their ability to avoid the impact of strikes on recent operations or in gauging the success of future operations. Decision-making has been difficult at best with critical questions such as:
- Will flights be delayed or cancelled altogether?
- Which airports are affected?
- Is over-flying France even possible?
Earlier in 2023, DGAC (Directorate General for Civil Aviation, France), attempted to limit the disruption impact by asking airlines to reduce the quantity of their flights by approximately 20% of normal operations (adjusted for some airports).
In order to mitigate even further impact on French and surrounding regional airports, DGAC also pursued the introduction of a new law within the French government requiring that certain ATC controllers maintain a minimum level of service.
The new law was initially approved by the National Assembly on November 15th, 2023, after which it was sent for final review and approval by the Council of State on December 12th, 2023. On December 29th, 2023, the Council officially approved and published the law.
Until then, the strikes and subsequent DGAC legal efforts had left many aircraft operators without clear answers on how to navigate their operations within and near France over the last several weeks.
However, this proposed new law “should” provide some clarity and relief for operators and flight planning teams.
The law states that ATC controllers will maintain the right to strike; however, striking ATC controllers will now be obligated to declare themselves individually at least 48 hours prior to the beginning of the strike movement.
Operators will now know in advance where controllers will be on strike, as well as the quantity of strikers per area. This knowledge will help avoid flight cancellations and delays by being able to prepare for work-arounds to other airports as needed.
As a reminder, FPI has a direct local operations presence in France (see previous article featuring FPI’s Lionel Cojan). Despite the anticipated relief from the new law, it’s always best to stay in close contact with your FPI Ops Teams so your trip management decisions can be confirmed or edited in real-time.
Take advantage of FPI’s local French aviation knowledge and coordinated 24/7/365 Global Ops Teams to provide the best and most up-to-date advice for any plans your trips may have in France or elsewhere in the EU.
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