Airline executives thinking of 21 day notice for strikes

Travel News 12 Jul 2016

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh wants air traffic control (ATC) unions to give 21 days notice to airlines before they strike to minimise the impact action has on businesses and consumers.

The head of British Airways' parent company has also called for Air Navigation Service Providers to bear the costs of strikes and said it was "grossly unfair" airlines had to pick up the bill for continued industrial action.

Walsh was responding to research carried out by PwC on behalf of A4E that showed between 2010 and 2015 ATC strikes had reduced EU GDP by €9.5 billion, and if not tackled the costs of further strikes over the next five years will be of similar magnitude to the entire GDP of Malta.

He reassured that they are not putting down the right to strike. "If Europe wants to grow and be competitive it must mitigate the impact. Recognise people's rights but balance them with people's rights who have flights cancelled," he added.

When asked how to resolve this, Walsh suggests: "There should be 21 days notice given to airlines when a group is going to strike. Give us time to communicate with passengers and help us reduce the impact on consumers."

Also speaking on the panel with Walsh was director general of the European Commission for transport, Henrik Hololei. He urged governments to understand the "magnitude of the problem" using the three-day strike by French ATCs in June that alone caused 1,200 flight cancellations, 300 re-routed flights at a cost of more than €100million.

The PwC study also showed that between 2010 and 2015 there were 167 ATC strike days in the EU - one disrupted day every 13 days. Across the EU, ATC strikes occur the most frequently in France, followed by Greece, Italy and Portugal and resulted in 30,000 cancellations and more than six million minutes of delays among A4E airlines.

A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said: “The European aviation sector - with 900 million passengers each year – is one of the best performing parts of the European economy. Any disruption has severe knock-on effects on tourism and other sectors.