Air traffic control strike hits French airports

Workers are concerned that European Union plans for a “Single European Sky” will have negative effects on their working conditions.


Beauvais Bordeaux Charles de Gaulle DGAC European Commission liberalise civil airspace Lyon Marseille Nice single European airspace Toulouse


French air traffic controllers began a three-day strike on Tuesday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations across the country in a protest against plans to liberalise civil airspace. Workers are concerned that European Union plans for a “Single European Sky” will have negative effects on their working conditions.

The European Commission estimates that inefficiencies in air traffic management add 42km to the average flight. It wants to centralise air traffic controls, merging national systems into nine Functional Airspace Blocks. However, France’s main controllers’ union says the plans constitute “a direct attack on the public service nature of this sector” and are the beginning of privatisation.

Around 1,800 flights were cancelled out of about 7,650 scheduled for Tuesday in Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Beauvais, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux airports, France’s DGAC aviation authority said. However, fewer flights were affected than its initial estimate of 50 percent.