LONDON – During the first half of the ongoing year, European travelers have experienced up to 29 days in delays or cancellations because of the Air Traffic Control strikes that have severely affected the central European region. 22 of these strikes have occurred in France alone.

The Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism (NET) joined Airlines for Europe (A4E) to help decrease the strikes’ damaging impact on travelers and tourism.

“Travel disruptions caused by ATC strikes have a cascading effect on all other services supplied in the tourism value chain,” says Susanne Kraus-Winkler, president of HOTREC, the voice of the hospitality industry in Europe and also a member of NET.

“Flight delays or cancellations lead to lost accommodation, missed cruise connections, travel attractions… We deplore that our customers are ultimately paying for the strikes with the lost enjoyment of their vacations,” she added.

Both A4E and NET believe that these cancelations are putting small and medium-sized businesses at risk, with airlines having to pay passengers compensation and rebooking for strikes that fall away from their scope of responsibility.

“Airlines don’t have the right to recover these costs from the air navigation service providers who have caused them”, ECTAA noted.

A series of Ryanair 737-800s on the ramp at one of the carrier’s European focus cities. Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline by passengers carried, and consistently one of the world’s most profitable airlines. (Credits: Ryanair)

A new study found that the strikes have cost the EU economy around €13.4 billion since 2010.

A4E has proposed a 72-hour notice period for those ATC members who wish to strike so that the appropriate contingencies can be made to reduce disruption for passengers and give the airlines enough time to mitigate the potential schedule changes.

Ryanair, for one, is fully on board with this plan and will be pushing for further actions together with the European Commission over the course of this year.