French air traffic controllers’ union files strike notice for April 25

Almost three-quarters of flights could to be affected

Following a near-miss at Bordeaux airport, the BEA has called for compulsory electronic clocking-in of air traffic controllers at work
Published Last updated

UPDATE April 24: A last-minute deal between unions and the civil aviation authority has seen the strike called off. Read more about it here.

France’s largest air traffic control union has filed a strike notice for this Thursday (April 25), which, if it goes ahead, could see up to 70% of flights cancelled, according to various media reports. 

The SNCTA union, which represents 60% of air traffic controllers, called for the strike after “unacceptable” proposed changes to the job role of its members by the national civil aviation authority (Direction générale de l'aviation civile, DGAC).

Other unions are also supporting the strike action on Thursday.

An overhaul of the profession is ongoing, and negotiations between unions and the DGAC have already been underway for 15 months.

A second potential strike during June – at the same level of intensity – has also been threatened by the union.

The DGAC told Le Figaro that the exact number of people on strike will not be known until Tuesday (April 23). It claims, though, that it is confident “a solution will be found to avert the action.

A new law means all air traffic controllers must announce their intent to strike at least two days in advance, to allow airports to limit the number of flights that are grounded due to action.

Read more: French MPs move to stop last-minute air traffic controller strikes

There is no information yet about which airports or flights would be affected, although it is likely that all major airports, and both domestic and international flights, would be impacted

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

Authority ‘u-turn’ at heart of issues

The SNCTA refused to attend a meeting earlier this month, after the DGAC notified the union that it had made changes to proposals between the two groups, without discussing them with the union beforehand.

The union called the actions a “u-turn” on previous negotiations which “directly called into question the sincerity of [the negotiations] and the compromises reached to date.” 

The negotiations are over the role of air traffic controllers and their duties, in light of an expected increase in air traffic in the coming years.

The changes would see controllers compensated for a higher workload with better pay, and a recruitment drive for the profession would be launched, according to Le Figaro

Thursday’s strike – and the potential month-long one in June – do not interfere with the union’s promised ‘Olympic Truce’. 

In 2023, major air traffic control unions agreed no strike action would take place between July and September this year, so as not to jeopardise travel for those visiting the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Paris.