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Further Strike Action to Impact European and U.K. Travelers

The labor action comes just two months before Paris is set to host the Olympic Games.

Paris-Orly Airport in France (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

A strike by air traffic controllers at Orly airport near Paris has resulted in the cancellation of 70 percent of scheduled flights this past weekend. The French civil aviation authority ordered the airport to make the cuts after the UNSA-ICNA (Syndicat National Autonome des Ingénieurs du Contrôle de la Navigation Aérienne) labor group called the strike action. Le Monde reported the UNSA-ICNA stating ‘”The managers at Orly continue their penny-pinching and shopkeeper accounts which will quickly lead to our teams being understaffed” by 2027.’

The industrial action is the second in a month affecting French air traffic management resulting in the French Transport Minister stating: “I deplore the behavior of some local level agents who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a majority accord and are making passengers pay the price.” The statement was in reference to an agreement made between the largest labor group, the SNCTA (National Syndicate of Air Traffic Controllers), and airport authorities.

The strike action is the latest to affect the aviation industry in Europe and the United Kingdom and comes two months ahead of Paris’ hosting of the Olympic Games and at the start of the English school holiday mid-term break.

U.K. travelers may also be impacted at the end of the mid-term break by scheduled industrial action by Border Force workers. The strike notices have been issued for May 31 and June 1-2, the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when most Britons return from the holiday break.

An estimated 500 workers of the PCS (public and commercial services) union are due to take part in the strike called to protest the 250 Border Force staff projected to lose their jobs as a result of changing work patterns. The main impact will be a lack of staff checking passports for inbound travellers resulting in delays and disruptions.

The PCS union general secretary Fran Heathcote said: “We are keen to resolve this dispute but the Home Office (U.K. government department) must first put something on the table for our members to consider. The Home Office has said it is ‘open to discuss’ a resolution but it only responded to our request for a meeting after we threatened further action. Until it comes back with changes to the roster that will benefit our members then the dispute will continue.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the union’s decision to strike but remain open to discussing a resolution with the PCS union. The changes we are implementing will bring the working arrangements for Border Force Heathrow staff in line with the way staff work at all other major ports, provide them with more certainty on working patterns, and improve the service to the traveling public.”

Yahoo! News reported that the three-day strike action ‘will be followed by three weeks of action short of a strike, including staff working to rule and a ban on overtime running from 4 until 25 June.’ The Home Office stated: “We have robust plans in place to minimize disruption where possible, but we urge passengers to check the latest advice from operators before they travel.”

John Flett

Author

  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John has held the positions of course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and has been a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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