Concerns over flight disruption this summer. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

The Spanish Airline Association (ALA) has asked the Spanish Government and the European Union to demand that France protects flights when they cross French airspace, as “Spanish intra-European flights (especially those from the UK) are highly affected by French air traffic control, and even some domestic operations”, according to a statement.

The president of ALA, Javier Gándara, has called for minimum services to protect overflights in French airspace in the event of a strike by French air traffic control, as happens in Italy and Spain, in order to “protect the right to mobility of the thousands of Spaniards and Europeans”.

The organisation points to a Eurocontrol report which indicates that Spain was the country most affected, after France, by the 34 days of French air traffic control strikes that took place between 1 March and 9 April, as part of the national protests against the Macron government’s pension reform.

15% of flights operating on those days in Spain suffered some kind of delay, up to a total of 394 flights, with an average delay of 23 minutes, and cancellations increased by 61% in the country.
“But what is most worrying is that 88% of the flights affected in Spain did not originate from or arrive in France, but flew over French airspace,” said ALA.

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In addition, according to the Eurocontrol report, the delays and diversions caused by the strike have caused the emission of more than 1,200 tonnes of additional CO2 per day, with its consequent impact on the environment.

Gándara added that the additional emissions generated in just one month of strike action are equivalent to a quarter of those estimated to be saved in an entire year by the ban on short flights recently implemented by the French government.

“If there really is such concern for the environment, it is incomprehensible that measures such as this proposal are not being taken as a matter of urgency,” he said.
In addition to Spain, other European countries are not unaffected by the adverse effects of the French air traffic controllers’ strikes.

As a result of the days of strikes in air traffic control in France, 30% of daily European flights have been affected, with a total of 237,000 European flights and 10 million passengers affected. It has also led to a 37% increase in daily cancellations and a 9% drop in punctuality.

On an economic level, these strikes mean eight million euros of costs per day on average for aircraft operators due to cancellations caused by these strikes and six million euros of additional costs due to delays per day on average.