Airlines file EU complaint over French strikes | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.07.2018
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Airlines file EU complaint over French strikes

Four European airlines have complained to the European Commission over what they say is France's failure to tackle strikes by air traffic controllers. They say the strikes are hindering people's freedom of movement.

British Airways owner IAG, easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air on Tuesday lodged a complaint to the EU over strikes by air traffic controllers (ATCs) in France.   

The airlines argued that repeated strikes by France's air traffic controllers, particularly in the south, are having a devastating impact on schedules and denying passengers their legal right to free movement.

Read more: Jump in German flight delays stokes fears of travel chaos   

IAG and Ryanair warned in June that they would file a complaint. They have now been joined by Hungarian no-frills carrier Wizz Air and British counterpart easyJet.

"International Airlines Group (IAG), Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air have submitted complaints to the European Commission against France as its air traffic controllers' strikes restrict the fundamental principle of freedom of movement within the EU," the airlines said in a joint statement.

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 "The airlines are not questioning the right to strike but believe France is breaking EU law by not enabling flights over the country during strikes." According to the statement, French air traffic control strikes have quadrupled this year compared with 2017.

Aviation delays

"The right to strike needs to be balanced against freedom of movement," said IAG chief executive Willie Walsh.

"It's not only customers flying in and out of France who are affected during French ATC strikes. "Passengers on routes that overfly France, especially the large airspace that covers Marseille and the Mediterranean, are also subject to delays and massive disruptions," said Walsh.

A French senate report in June said that the country's air traffic control was responsible for a third of all aviation delays in Europe, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

Between 2004 and 2016, French air traffic controllers were on strike for 254 days, vastly outstripping their closest rival Greece, where there were 46 days of stoppages and Italy with 37, according to the report seen by the French daily.

sri/tr (AFP, dpa)

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