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French air traffic control causes one third of flight delays in Europe, according to a report by the French government. The delays cost airlines approximately €300 million each year.

The report was drawn up by the finance committee of the Senate, which is the upper house of French Parliament. It cites strikes by controllers and outages caused by antiquated equipment as the primary causes of disruption.

According to the report, between 2004 and 2016, controllers were on strike for a total of 254 days, exceeding all other countries by a wide margin (Greece trailed behind in second place at 46 days). Controllers have been protesting against staff cuts and a lack of investment in new technology, despite the €2 billion put into modernisation attempts since 2011.

Air traffic control in France

“Everything suggests the situation will only become worse in the years to come and strong solutions must be put in place right away to bring things up to scratch as soon as possible,” said Vincent Capo-Canellas, author of the report.

Controllers generally earn about €5,000 a month and work a rota of three days on, three days off. The state pays them under the minimum wage while training at the National Civil Aviation School on the condition that they then work for at least 10 years in the profession.

French air traffic controllers joined a nationwide public sector strike in May, affecting tens of thousands of flights. A 48-hour local strike took place in the south of France over the weekend.

(Source: The Guardian)

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