French air traffic controllers have left their options open regarding a strike, threatening disruption to flights on October 10.
A Europe-wide strike with air traffic controllers in France, Germany, Spain and Portugal among those planning to take action on the same day was subsequently postponed.
However, French air traffic staff have decided to leave open the possibility of pursuing industrial action with its unions registering an option on October 8 allowing them to strike on Thursday.
Network manager Eurocontrol said that a teleconference held yesterday afternoon indicated that all five French area control centres (ACC) will implement a significant reduction in capacity from approximately 0400 UTC.
It is expected that these capacities will change as staff report for duty as follows:
- Paris and Reims ACCs (LFFF/LFEE): Capacity is expected to become available during the early part of the morning and precautionary regulations should be cancelled by 0600 UTC.
- Brest and Bordeaux ACCs (LFRR/LFBB): A minimum service of approximately 33 per cent of normal capacity will available during the morning. This is expected to increase from 0900 UTC onwards until 1800 UTC when normal capacities are expected.
- Marseille ACC (LFMM): The strike is expected to be very strongly adhered to with a minimum service of approximately 33 per cent of normal capacity from 0430-1800 UTC with an increase in capacity only after 1800 UTC.
The French Civil Aviation Authority is implementing a flight reduction programme that will affect a third of arrival and departures from Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly and Paris Beauvais from 0400-1200 UTC from and to the south. It said airlines should be prepared to reduce their programmes after 1200 UTC if necessary. Eurocontrol said it is currently not clear on the exact definition of ‘south’ and that this will be clarified by a further notification or NOTAM as soon as possible.
Arrival and departures from Lyon-Saint-Exupery and Marseille must also be reduced by 30 per cent from 0400-1800 UTC as they are wholly within the Marseille ACC.
Operators to LFMN (Nice) are not requested to reduce their flying programmes, as traffic can route via LIMM (Milan ACC) avoiding Marseille ACC.
UK carrier easyJet said in a statement that the French CAA had informed it that southern areas of France would be the most affected. “As a consequence we will be asked by DGAC to reduce our flights from both Paris CDG and Paris ORY to southern European destinations by 30 per cent. Flights to Basel, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseilles, and Toulouse are also likely to be impacted.”
“The strike will also impact all flights that over-fly the affected French airspace. Network wide delays can be expected across the whole day as a high proportion of easyJet’s flights operate through French airspace. There is a risk of late notice cancellations if the delays become excessive and unmanageable.”
Irish carrier Ryanair said: “Ryanair regrets to advise passengers that over 70 flights will be cancelled on Thursday 10 October due to French ATC strikes and further delays and cancellations are likely. We sincerely apologise to all passengers who have had their travel plans disrupted by these unjustified ATC strikes.”
Eurocontrol said it was coordinating with surrounding ACCs to ensure maximum capacities and that rerouting opportunities will be available including: Tango oceanic routes, routes via Algeria and Tunisia and by adapting military activity which may impact capacity.