Major EU tourism trade bodies are joining forces with Airlines for Europe (A4E) in efforts to minimize the “damaging” impact of air traffic controller (ATC) strikes on travelers and tourism across the EU.
“We are concerned about the increasing number of ATC strikes that result in major travel disruptions for our customers. In the midst of the busiest tourist season, ATC strikes cause major delays for millions of holidaymakers, many of which are families with young children,” said Pawel Niewiadomski, European Travel Agents & Tour Operators Association (ECTAA) president.
According to a joint statement issued by the Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism (NET) – consisting of CLIA Europe, ECTAA, EFCO & HPA, ETOA, Eurogites, HOTREC, IAAPA, and IRU – and A4E, since 2004, EU airlines and their passengers have faced 423 ATC strike days, 70 percent of which occurred in France.
A total of 29 strike days have already occurred in the first six months of 2018, causing delays and cancelations affecting millions of travelers.
The statement goes on to note that ATC strikes have a costly impact on tourism, European economies and the environment; customers’ journeys and supply chains are disrupted; diversions result in much longer flights, burn more fuel, result in higher CO2 emissions; small- and medium-size businesses are put at risk; airlines are required to pay passenger compensation; tour operators have to offer alternative travel arrangements and possible refunds.
A4E is proposing a mandatory 72-hour individual notification period for employees wishing to strike, protection of overflights, and an improved continuity of service for passengers.
Indicatively, according to a recent study, air traffic strikes are estimated at having cost the EU, 13.4 billion euros since 2010.
Europe’s largest airline association, A4E also proposed additional investments be made in technology, processes and human resources to make Europe’s air traffic management system capable of coping with ever-increasing traffic.
“2018 is shaping up to be one of the worst years ever for ATC strikes in Europe. We stand together with NET, its members and Europe’s tourism industry as a whole in calling on authorities to take immediate action to improve the situation and reverse the trend”, said Thomas Reynaert, MD at A4E.
Meanwhile, travelers can join A4E’s Free Movement Call for Action by signing its online petition at www.keepeuropesskiesopen.com. The petition will be presented to authorities in Brussels and EU capitals by the end of 2018.