What is now sadly a regular Summer event for the aviation industry, a full five day strike by air traffic controllers in the French Brest and Bordeaux area control centres (ACC) is affecting air traffic in and around France starting 6 March at 0500 UTC and continues to 10 March 1900 UTC. To add to the mayhem, the strike ( the latest in a long running deep-routed dispute over pay and conditions ) additionally includes controllers from the Marseille ACC from 07 March 0500 UTC to 10 March 0500 UTC. During the strike, traffic that normally transits the ACCs and some traffic to and from airports in the sectors will be affected.
Avoiding French AirspacePrevious strikes by French air traffic controllers have resulted in longer flight times for flights avoiding French airspace. Flight Radar tracked British Airways flight BA470 which normally operates directly between London and Barcelona, but during a previous strike in March 2016, BA470 and many other aircraft avoided French airspace by taking advantage of what are known as the ‘Tango routes’ off the western coast of France in the Shanwick FIR. The average flight time for BA470 is 1 hour 36 minutes, but the alternative 'Tango' routing added 1 hour 15 minutes, lengthening the flight time to nearly 3 hours, but at least passengers arrfived at their destination!
Flights departing from southern Germany, Switzerland, Italy and other airports east of France often fly south through Tunisian and Algerian airspace to avoid restrictions in the Marseille FIR as the fly to Spain, Portugal, or the
The Three Tango RoutesThe ‘Tango routes’ allow flights to navigate around French airspace, however their is a time penalty due to the increased distance involved.
To mitigate the effects of the strike some airlines, such as British Airways, have decided to uprate certain flights, using larger aircraft to ease congestion.
To learn more about oceanic airspace operations, the ICAO European and North Atlantic Office offers the North Atlantic Operations and Airspace Manual (opens in PDF).
Updates:For the latest information on the strike and how it is affecting flights, visit the Eurocontrol Network Operations Portal. You can also follow Eurocontrol on twitter.
The Flight Radar site will have updates on twitter and Facebook as more is learned about the effects of the strike throughout the week.
NOTAMThe full text of the NOTAM regarding the strike.
F0330/17 NOTAMN Q) LFXX/QAFXX/IV/NBO/E /000/999/4525N00006W525 A) LFFF LFRR LFBB B) 1703060400 C) 1703062100 E) DUE TO A STRIKE WITHIN FRENCH CIVIL AVIATION SERVICES, SOME IMPORTANT DISTURBANCES WILL AFFECT FRENCH ATS, AIS AND COM SERVICES
1- A MINIMUM SERVICE WILL BE ENSURED IN BORDEAUX LFRR AND BREST LFRR. ACTUAL ATC CAPACITY WILL BE DETERMINED ACCORDING TO AVAILABLE STAFF.
2- AIRCRAFT OPERATORS ARE REQUESTED TO REDUCE FOR THIS PERIOD THEIR INITIALLY SCHEDULED FLIGHT BY 25 PER CENT IN PARIS-ORLY (LFPO), PARIS-CDG(LFPG) AND BEAUVAIS (LFOB) GLOBALLY FOR FLIGHT TO/FROM SOUTH AND WEST (ALL AIRPORTS IN LFRR AND LFBB FIR AND AIRPORTS HAVING ICAO CODE STARTING WITH LE, LP, GC, GM, DA, DT)
3- AIRCRAFT OPERATORS ARE REQUESTED TO REDUCE THEIR INITIALLY SCHEDULED FLIGHTS BY 25 PER CENT ON ALL AIRPORTS IN BORDEAUX FIR LFBB GLOBALLY
4- AIRCRAFT OPERATORS ARE REQUESTED TO REDUCE THEIR INITIALLY SCHEDULED FLIGHTS BY 33 PER CENT ON ALL AIRPORTS IN BREST FIR LFBB GLOBALLY
5- TERRITORIAL CONTINUITY FLIGHTS ARE NOT CONCERNED BY THIS REQUEST
6- AIRCRAFT OPERATORS SHALL SEND IMMEDIATELY REMAINING PROGRAM AND CANCELLED FLIGHTS TO DGAC/DTA BY MAIL TO: DTA-PROGRAMMES-CRISES-BF(AT)AVIATION-CIVILE.GOUV.FR
7- FLIGHT PLANS EXCEEDING THOSE LIMITATIONS COULD BE REJECTED
8- AIRCRAFT OPERATORS MUST SYSTEMATICALLY CANCEL ALL PLN, RPL OR FPL FOR THE FLIGHTS NOT CARRIED OUT RMK:INFORMATION ON REAL TIME SITUATION WILL BE AVAILABLE ON THE FOLLOWING INTERNET WEBSITE HTTP://DSNADO.CANALBLOG.COM
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment
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