Report Suggests French Air Traffic Control Causes 33 Percent Of European Flight Delays

French Air Traffic Control

A new government-backed study reveals that France's air traffic control (ATC) is responsible for 33 percent of flight delays in Europe annually. In terms of costs, this represents an annual loss of about $350 million to European airlines.

In this surprising report, which was put together by the French Senate, authors suggest that there are two major reasons France is responsible for so many delays. First, the technology used in France's ATC is very old. Second, French air traffic controllers go on more strikes than any other European nation.

Government officials were distressed over this report's findings, especially concerning France's outdated technology. From 2011 till today, the French government has spent $2.3 billion investing in new ATC equipment.

Another interesting finding in this report is that French air traffic controllers went on over 250 strike days between 2004 and 2016. That's by far the highest number in all of Europe with Greece in second place at only 46 strike days. Often French controllers demanded higher wages and more up-to-date computers.

Unfortunately, ATC experts don't believe the situation in France will get better anytime soon. The reason study authors have this pessimistic opinion is because European flights are increasing as French ATC staff and technology remain stagnant. In 2017, there were over 3 million flights in Europe, which is a 4 percent jump from 2016. There are still, however, only 4,000 French air traffic controllers.

There's no official word on what the French government will do (if anything) to address this issue.

Everyone who works for France's ATC has to study at the National Civil Aviation School (French: École nationale de l'aviation civile) and agree to work as an air traffic controller for at least 10 years after graduating. The average salary for an ATC worker is $5,800 per month and most controllers work for three days and then take three days off.

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