European airlines urge Brussels to avoid further strike disruption

With demand for flights expected to skyrocket this summer, European airlines are urging the European Commission to take additional steps to limit the impact of strikes on travel this summer, according to trade group Airlines for Europe (A4E). Strikes have swept across Europe this year, causing disruptions during the Easter travel season. Analysts and airlines are now concerned that travellers will suffer another summer of disruption on the same scale as last year.


Air traffic controller strikes in France, in particular, have resulted in aircraft delays and cancellations across the country, generating additional air space congestion in Europe and forcing Ryanair to start a petition requesting further action from Europe's leaders. The petition currently has over 964,000 signatures and, if it reaches one million, the Commission will respond. "Millions of Europeans are looking forward to travelling this summer, and strikes threaten to derail their plans," said Laurent Donceel, acting general director of A4E, which represents airlines like Ryanair, Lufthansa, and Air France-KLM.


"It's past time for the Commission to take decisive action to ensure smoother skies in the coming months." According to SITA, an IT and digital services supplier in the airline industry, baggage mishandling rates have also increased due to employee shortages and labour interruptions, among other difficulties. A4E's proposal includes mandatory arbitration with air traffic control unions prior to calling a strike, a 21-day advance notice if they opt to strike, and a three-day individual notification of strike participation. In most circumstances, EU member countries are responsible for labour law and union discussions. 


"It is critical that people can travel freely across Europe and that the internal market functions properly, while fully respecting the right to strike," a European Commission spokesperson said in response to A4E's stance. "The Commission will work with relevant Member States and stakeholders to improve service continuity in the event of strikes."

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