French air traffic controllers call off Friday strike

Air France aircraft parked at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Arne Müseler / www.arne-mueseler.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons
By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

The French air traffic controllers’ union Syndicat majoritaire des contrôleurs aériens (SNCTA) has cancelled a strike that was planned for Friday, September 15, 2023.

The strike action would have coincided with the start of the Rugby World Cup, which takes place in France from September 8 to October 28, 2023.

Mediation agreement reached


The SNCTA announced the cancellation on its website on September 12, 2023, briefly saying that an agreement had been reached with the government via a mediation process.

 The French Transport Minister Clement Beaune also took to social media yesterday to acknowledge that the impending action had been called off, also noting that the lifting of the proposed strike action would permit the Rugby World Cup to proceed or smoothly.

Beaune also recognised “the commitment made by unions to avoid any social movements during the current and upcoming major sporting events of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

The agreement includes a commitment from the government to not raise the pension age for air traffic controllers before 2025.

The strike cancellation comes as a relief for airlines and passengers, who were facing the prospect of widespread disruption to flights during the Rugby World Cup.

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The SNCTA had been threatening to strike for several weeks, in protest against the government’s plan to raise the pension age from 62 to 64. The union argued that this would make it difficult to recruit and retain air traffic controllers, who are already facing a shortage.

The government had said that it was willing to negotiate with the SNCTA, but that it would not back down on its plans to raise the pension age. The mediation process that led to the agreement was facilitated by the French Labour Ministry.

Rugby World Cup


The cancellation of the strike is also a welcome development for the Rugby World Cup, which is expected to attract millions of visitors to France. The tournament is also being used as a test event for the 2024 Olympic Games, which will also be held in France.

The agreement between the SNCTA and the government is a temporary measure, and the issue of the pension age is likely to be revisited in the future.

However, the cancellation of the strike is a positive step for both the airlines and the passengers who were planning to travel to France for the Rugby World Cup.

Proposed investment in ATC technology


In addition to the agreement on the pension age, the mediation process also resulted in a commitment from the government to invest in new air traffic control technology.

This investment is intended to help to reduce the workload of air traffic controllers and to improve the safety of air travel.

The cancellation of the strike and the investment in new technology are both positive developments for the French air traffic control system.

They will help to ensure that the system is able to cope with the increasing demand for air travel in France, and that it remains safe for passengers and airspace users.

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