French air traffic controllers' strike called off due to election

‘We do not want to mix our politics with national politics’, says union representative

Paris Orly airport in France
Paris Orly is France’s second-busiest airport, however a union claims that it has a poor record for its treatment of personnel

A planned strike of air traffic controllers at Paris Orly airport has been cancelled following the announcement of parliamentary elections in France. Unions say they “do not want to mix our politics with national politics”. 

The three-day strike between June 11 and 13 would have been the latest in a series of air traffic controller strikes at Paris Orly, which have seen up to 70% of flights cancelled.

Paris Orly is France’s second-busiest airport but has a poor record for its treatment of personnel and lags behind in hiring overtime workers, according to one of the major airport unions.

Read more: French air traffic controllers take too much time off and risk safety 

“Orly is clearly an afterthought for the DGAC [French Civil aviation authority] compared to the other Paris airport, despite having a similar strategic value,” announced the UNSA-ICNA union on June 5, explaining its decision to strike.

However, the UNSA-ICNA union only represents 17% of air traffic controllers, compared to the much larger SNCTA union, which struck a deal with the DGAC for improved pay and conditions following strike action in May.

The SNCTA union did not vote to pursue strike action in June, however the smaller UNSA-ICNA union decided to press on with the strike alone.

Previous article: Paris Orly airport strike alert: Potential disruptions June 11-13 

Two strikes cancelled

The victory of the far-right Rassemblement National in the European parliamentary elections on June 9, followed by the announcement by President Macron of parliamentary elections on June 30 and July 7, essentially stole the limelight of the UNSA-ICNA’s planned strike.

On Monday June 10, the union announced that the strike had been called off.

"The UNSA-ICNA has withdrawn this strike notice, as it has for the notice for July 4 and 5", a spokesman for the union, under condition of anonymity - told newspaper Les Echos, adding that the union “does not want to mix the internal politics of the DGAC with national politics.”

Unions are legally required to give prior notice of strikes, and individual air traffic controllers must give at least 48 hours notice before participating in strike action to help authorities minimise disruption (although this information does not need to be made available to the wider public).