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  • ​A4E outlines action to counter 'ludicrous' ATC strikes

​A4E outlines action to counter 'ludicrous' ATC strikes

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has detailed how Airlines for Europe (A4E) plans to counter the "ludicrous market power" wielded by air traffic controllers when they strike.

Speaking at the A4E Summit in Brussels today, O'Leary said the airline association would work with air traffic management industry body the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) over the next six months to enhance the performance of Europe's ATC network.

O'Leary says that in Europe there has been an average of one day of ATC strike action every nine days over the past six years. "The impact this has had on passengers and their plans is totally disproportionate," he adds, also citing the impact on airline profits.

A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert says the association will work with CANSO to establish "concrete measures".

He adds: "This is going to make a huge difference in the operations for our members."

Calling this issue its number-one concern, A4E indicated its preference for measures to include minimum-service-level agreements with ATC providers and protection of overflights when strike action was taking place.

In her introductory presentation later in the day, EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall described 2016 as the "worst year for ATC strikes to date", while IAG chief Willie Walsh said during the summit's opening panel session that while solutions were being formulated by A4E, "we're going to have a summer of [ATC] disruption" in 2017.

CANSO Europe chairman Martin Rolfe says the organisation "recognises that industrial action in some European countries has a significant impact on airlines and the travelling public".

Rolfe adds: "We look forward to further enhancing the reliability and performance of the European aviation network."

He also urged sensible dialogue on the issue, suggesting that the vast majority of European ATC operators experienced no problems with ATC strikes.

O'Leary says 90% of Ryanair's delays can be attributed to ATC issues such as strike action and staff shortages.

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