The return of strikes in the air sector

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After a spring of 2023 marked by long strikes in France, the summer has so far been relatively calm. Apparently this will now change. The air traffic controllers’ union in France has called for a work stoppage, the SCNTA announced in a press release. We talked about it at the end of August on Airlines and Destinations

The union accuses the DGAC of not respecting the agreements…

…and not to adjust the salaries of air traffic controllers to high inflation, which is why a strike is planned for September 15. The strike is expected to last from morning until evening. The SCNTA calls on other unions to participate in the work stoppages.

The strike could have considerable consequences for air traffic to and from France

We are expected to experience flight cancellations and flight delays. According to the “Loyaltylobby” portal, there could even be restrictions for connections that only pass through French airspace.

In addition, another strike is planned for October 13

Strikes in France will affect the Rugby World Cup

The two days of strike (September 15 and October 13) also affect a major event in France. The Rugby World Cup will take place in the country from September 8 to October 28.

If travel plans are disrupted by strikes, travelers have certain rights and can assert them even if staff stop working.

Compensation for disrupted air transport

Normally, travelers have a right if a flight is delayed more than three hours or is canceled altogether. They can then claim lump sum compensation. However, there are exceptions: in exceptional circumstances, travelers are not entitled to compensation because the airline is not responsible.

This also includes a strike by air traffic controllers. Here you can get an overview of what qualifies as exceptional circumstances

Right to alternative transport

If a flight is canceled, affected travelers are entitled to equivalent replacement transportation. The airline must transport you to your destination as quickly as possible. In the case of a package trip, it is the organizer who must take care of this. If no replacement flight is offered, travelers can book a flight themselves and have their money refunded.

If the flight is canceled, if you no longer wish to travel, you can terminate the contract and demand reimbursement of the flight price from the airline. If a first partial flight has already been completed and the connecting flight has been canceled, those affected can request transportation to the point of departure.

Right to a hotel in case of delay

Travelers whose flights are delayed beyond midnight on the same day of departure are entitled to a hotel room, whether or not the airline itself is responsible for the delayed departure. Airlines generally organize the overnight stay at the hotel themselves as well as the return transfer to the airport. So ask your airline specifically.

Right to meals, refreshments, etc.

If you are already on the plane and it does not take off after hours of waiting, the following conditions apply:

In Europe, after an hour of waiting, you are entitled to water, air conditioning and the use of the toilet. After a full five hours, you can even leave the plane.

In America, you only get water, air conditioning, and the use of a toilet after two hours. You are allowed to leave the plane after just three hours.

If you’re stuck at the airport, you’re entitled to airline care and food if your flight is delayed two hours or more. It must provide free meals and refreshments depending on the waiting time.

In practice, airlines often issue vouchers that travelers can redeem at the airport. Unfortunately, there has been a sharp deterioration in compensation rules. Some airlines (often low-cost ones like Vueling) rarely apply the rules.

Catherine Mills Avatar