BRUSSELS -The European aviation industry seems to be bracing for turbulence as widespread strikes during the peak travel season are on the cards.
Industrial action has already started at airports in France, the UK, and Switzerland, impacting passengers using Ryanair Holdings Plc, Air France-KLM, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG but the bigger crisis is that staff at Europe’s air route coordination body may walk off the job leading to delays and even cancellations as a result.
The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, or Eurocontrol, stated that a union representing workers at its network manager operations center was threatening to observe strikes that could last over a period of six months.
Though the date of action has not been revealed yet, Eurocontrol confirmed it was in negotiations with Union Syndicale Bruxelles and expects to make a statement on Monday.
The severity of the impending crisis could be gauged from the fact that the operations center manages traffic along the continent’s busy air routes and works with airports and national air traffic control bodies to coordinate capacity and ensure a seamless flow of flights even at times of peak activity.
Quantitatively, it supervises 10 million flights a year and receives 96,000 messages per day.
Meanwhile, in a letter to managers, the transport workers union Union Syndicale Bruxelles (USB), emphasized the hiring of more controllers immediately; it also contends its demands are “lawful, strong and fair”.
On the other hand, Eurocontrol director-general, Raul Medina, warned earlier that the war in Ukraine meant there was less airspace available for travel, calling on everyone to play their part to be successful over the summer.
Moreover, a spokesperson said Eurocontrol is making every effort to keep negotiations open and to find a constructive way forward.
The strikes if observed could lead to massive mayhem as air traffic control strikes don’t just affect flights to and from the country where they take place, but compel airlines to divert other flights to avoid that country’s airspace.
As airline operations rely on tight, quick-turnaround take-off and landing, disruption in one region can spread rapidly and trigger a domino effect.
Earlier, Airline Ryanair announced that over 900 trips were canceled in June as a result of air traffic control strikes across France but official news on Eurocontrol strike might be out on Monday.