By Peter Stevenson
Flight disruptions all across Europe, including Cyprus, are expected to hit thousands of passengers on January 29 when 14,000 air traffic controllers go on strike for four hours over new centralised initiatives by the European Commission, which they say will compromise safety.
The Pancyprian Air Traffic Controllers’ Union (PASEEK) said yesterday its members would be participating in a pan-European strike, which will ground flights between 3pm and 7pm next Wednesday.
The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions’ Coordination (ATCEUC) has called on its 14,000 members from 26 countries to strike after the breakdown of talks with the EC on new rules the Commission wants to impose.
A previous action day had been scheduled in October but the ATCEUC had called it off after it had received assurances that its concerns on the balance between safety and efficiency would be dealt with. Brussels wants increased safety for a smaller cost, it said.
“Last October, ATCEUC was given assurances that the EC was finally willing to discuss our views on the performance scheme, regarding the lack of real safety targets and the unrealistic cost efficiency targets,” an ATCEUC statement said.
“Less than five years have passed since the adoption of Single European Sky II (SES2) and despite its overambitious targets, which have not yet been reached, the EC is trying to change again the legislative framework for aviation in Europe by setting even more unrealistic targets,” the ATCEUC statement said.
“It is now called SES2+ and, together with the related Reference Period 2 targets (RP2), it demands a tenfold increase in flight safety by 2020, while at the same time it is drastically reducing the cost of Air Traffic Management (ATM) and related services by 50 per cent,” the statement added.
The ATCEUC has been calling for the EC to take their views on board and to redraft its proposal because the unrealistic cost reduction and the unreasonable traffic forecast would endanger the Air Navigation Service Provider’s (ANSP) ability to continue the safe provision of air navigation services.
“The ATCEUC has no doubts that the EC will continue to push forward with its attempt to cut costs without taking into account the interdependencies of the whole system,” it said.
The ATCEUC said it was asking for a realistic and flexible approach, given the recession in Europe. It is demanding that the EC takes due account of realistic traffic figures before setting cost targets and is requesting for an assessment period, during the RP2, to evaluate and correct targets. It is rejecting the approach, which it says does not measure how the system is performing on safety, and is ignoring the interdependencies and trade-offs between safety, costs, capacity and environment;
“On January 29, air traffic controllers around Europe will demonstrate their disappointment regarding the EC’s method, and their disagreement on the EC proposals for the RP2 targets and SES2+ package,” the ATCEUC said.