A social movement started in France by a syndicate of air traffic controllers is disrupting the skies in France but also in Geneva.
When French signalmen strike, Geneva pays the price. On Friday, a social movement hit the skies of Geneva, with signalmen demanding pay rises in the face of inflation and recruitment acceleration.
“Geneva Airport has been notified that 26 flights have been canceled for the day,” said Ignace Jeanneret, spokesman for Geneva Airport.
On the flights involved, 5 people on departure and 5 people on arrival on Air France, 4 people on departure and 4 people on arrival on EasyJet, 2 people on departure and 2 people on arrival on Iberia, 2 people on departure and 2 people on arrival on British Airways.
Canceled seats are visible on the Gvapp app and on the Geneva Airport website. As for affected passengers, Ignace Jeannerat notes that “in such situations, airlines have undoubtedly warned their customers in advance through their usual channels.”
Many airports in France were closed
On the French side, the aviation industry was disrupted on Friday morning by a strike by air traffic controllers, which also indirectly affects European traffic.
Called by the National Union of Air Traffic Controllers (SNCTA, the majority), the social movement is demanding pay rises in the face of inflation, but the acceleration of recruitment is worrying metropolitan France and abroad.
As a result, the Civil Aviation Directorate (DGAC) asked companies to abandon half of their flight plans on Friday, meaning “about 1000 canceled flights” departing or arriving from French territory.
Minimum service is provided at 16 airports and five en-route air navigation centres, which control aircraft flying through French airspace above 6,000 metres, DGAC said on Friday morning.
On the other hand, several airports were closed earlier in the day: Montpellier, La Rochelle, Rennes and Melun, according to a spokesperson.
“Significant flight cancellations and delays are expected across the region”, the DGAC warned, “calling on passengers to postpone their journeys and check with their airlines to know the status of their flights”.
“In such situations, airlines have warned their customers in advance through their usual channels.”
Geneva Airport Spokesperson Ignace Jeanneret
The strike affects all European air traffic. Flight delays on the Old Continent had already surpassed 500,000 cumulative minutes at 8:22 a.m., up from 148,000 for the whole of Friday, September 9, according to European regulator Eurocontrol, which is prompting “severe disruptions.”
Eurocontrol forecast around 21,000 aircraft movements in the area it manages on Friday, down by a third from a week earlier.
DGAC said it was working with Eurocontrol “to provide airlines with measures to avoid national airspace”.
Second announcement at the end of September
Leading European airline Ryanair said the “unjustified” strike would force it to “cancel 420 flights (80,000 passengers) flying mainly over France” on Friday.
SNCTA asserted that it had decided on the movement to express its concern “about the current inflationary situation and future recruitments”.
These professionals are particularly alarmed by the projected retirement of a third of ICNAs between 2029 and 2035.
However, “at least five years of separate recruitment qualification” and training skills are “structurally limited”. Therefore, according to them, it is necessary to expect this “departure wall” from next year, and budget for training in this direction.
SNCTA announced that it will file a “second notice from Wednesday, September 28 to Friday, September 30, 2022.”
Many social conflicts
In compliance with DGAC’s demands, Air France has decided to cancel around 400 of its 800 flights scheduled for Friday. This is 55% of short- and medium-haul flights, while long-haul flights are less affected, with one in ten eliminated.
“Last-minute delays and cancellations cannot be ruled out,” Air France said, adding that “customers are affected by canceled flights. [seraient] Notified separately.
Air France “strongly advises its customers to postpone their travel”, allowing them to look forward to or postpone their travel “free of charge”, and “for customers whose flight is cancelled, a credit note or a refund integrated in the event.” They will no longer travel”.
A number of social conflicts have erupted in recent weeks in the European aviation industry against a backdrop of record inflation. In late June and early July, hundreds of flights were canceled at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport due to a strike by employees of the manager, Groupe ATP.
On Wednesday, the company separately announced a 5% salary increase for all its employees and a bonus of 1,000 euros in response to the cost-of-living increase.