Italian ATC strike to ground airfreight

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The first national Italian ATC strike of the year is set to take place tomorrow afternoon (January 11). Airlines are being forced to cancel hundreds of flights in advance as controllers at Air Traffic Control centres in Rome, Milan, and Brindisi go on strike, affecting both domestic and intra-European flights to and from Italy. Intercontinental flights as well as over-flights are not expected to be impacted.

Freight may face additional headaches as workers at Catania, Turin, Genoa, Perugia, and Pescara airports are also expected to participate in the strike action.

“The new year is a chance for a fresh new start. Unfortunately, when it comes to Europe’s air traffic control strikes, old habits re-emerge year after year. Unless EU and national policy makers make this issue a priority,” says Thomas Reynaert, managine director, Airlines for Europe (A4E).

A4E is calling for an improved continuity of service for passengers and has proposed a number of solutions to address the situation, including a mandatory 72-hour individual notification period for employees wishing to strike and protection of over-flights while not at the expense of the country where the strike originates. In addition, investments are required in technology, processes and human resources to make Europe’s overall air traffic management system capable of coping with ever-increasing traffic.

“There is a clear increase in the frequency and duration of ATC strikes in Europe, with 30 days of strike in 2018 compared with 24 days in 2017. This is a trend which cannot continue – we urge national and EU politicians to address the situation immediately. European aviation’s reputation is at stake,” Reynaert added.

ATC strikes have a costly impact on tourism, European economies and the environment as supply chains are severely disrupted and diversions to avoid closed air space result in much longer flights and burn more fuel, resulting in higher CO2 emissions. A recent study by business consultants PwC estimates air traffic strikes have cost the EU economy €13.4 billion since 2010.