European air traffic control staff strike: Over 12,000 flights could be cancelled over summer holidays
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UK holidaymakers planning a European getaway this summer have been warned of disruption as over 12,000 flights may be cancelled due to strikes by air traffic controllers. According to reports, a third of all European flights are set to be affected by the walkouts announced by Eurocontrol - the air traffic management body.
Although the exact strike dates are not known yet, there have been concerns the dates may be selected to maximise disruption across the continent, including those coming from the UK.
Workers at Eurocontrol have said they will walk out in a dispute over pay, working hours and staffing issues, according to The Times. An industry source told the paper that it would be a “full blown” strike, with at least 20 to 30 per cent of flights being potentially delayed.
In a letter written to managers, as seen by The Times, it reads: “As difficult as industrial action is on everyone, we see no other path forward than to inform you of our decision to progress (with strikes).
“Our case is lawful, strong and fair, and in the interest of the agency, the network manager, our stakeholders (operational and member states), the flying public at large and ourselves as loyal employees of the agency.”
Eurocontrol previously told Euronews that this summer will be a “challenging” period with an estimated 33,000 flights per day over the next eight weeks. On Fridays, one of the most popular days to travel, that number could exceed 34,000. This is 8 per cent more flights overall than took off during the same period last year.
The surge in air traffic has led the organisation to issue warnings for key cities and regions across Europe including Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest and London. It says passengers could face longer flight times and significant delays as airlines attempt to avoid congested areas.
Eurocontrol’s director general Raul Medina has warned that Europe faces a “challenging” summer. On top of the increased number of flights, there is around 20 per cent less airspace available due to the war in Ukraine, creating further pressure.
"To be successful over the summer, we need everyone to play their part,” he added at an Airports Council International (ACI) meeting in Barcelona this week. Airports need to be well staffed, it is vital (air traffic controllers) provide enough capacity and that airlines stick to their schedules.”
Exact strike dates are likely to be announced on Monday (July 10).