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French air controllers still on overtime pay despite Covid

French air controllers are still being paid controversial bonuses of €255-550 per month for "summer extra hours worked", even as the French air travel sector is in crisis following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bonuses are still being given to 2,000 air controllers in France, it has emerged, even though the money is intended to remunerate extra work undertaken during the typically busy summer period. 

Yet, due to coronavirus pandemic, air travel in France is currently only at 30% of usual volume.

Read more: French flight boss: Air travel ‘not normal’ until 2023

An anonymous employee from executive management in France’s civil aviation body, la Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile, told news source Franceinfo: “It’s frankly indecent to have a bonus at this level for work that hasn’t been done because the traffic is not there. And, yet, a certain number of controllers are still going to be paid for 'increasing their productivity'.”

The bonuses, which have existed since 2016, are normally given as remuneration during the summer period when air traffic usually increases by up to 30% (although it can also be given in winter if needed). 

Trade unions for the controllers have insisted that bonuses during this period have been justified, but are engaging in ongoing negotiations. 

Loïc Parisi, national secretary of union Le Syndicat National des Contrôleurs de Trafic Aérien told FranceInfo: “We accept to work towards an evolution of the organisation of work… to postpone workdays that haven’t been able to be completed due to Covid-19 over the next three years.”

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