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French Strikes - impact on GA IFR

@Peter although there are still staff shortages I am not aware of any strikes at present.
For today as.I warned previously it is our National Day. There will be a lot of air movement with the Patrouille de France and other military aircraft around rhe Paris region, getting ready to fly down the Champs de l’Élysée.
This will be added to by aircraft, particularly helicopters following the Tour de France which is why I posted the "timetable and advice for pilots on this, yesterday.


there are still staff shortages I am not aware of any strikes at present

What is the difference?

These people are paid – I am using NATS pay rates – 150k plus. Do they still pretend to be working from home? Most people agree almost nobody actually works from home, with exceptions like call centres. And the more you pay people the less they need to work, and the more likely they are to go on strike (strikers normally don’t get paid, but if you are on 150k you will always be a very long way from not having bread on the table).

It’s actually a good Q to ask why a) ATC are on strike so much and b) why there are staff shortages in jobs which are so highly paid. It isn’t a French-only thing of course, but France is the world leader, closely followed by Switzerland. In Spain they had lots of fun too, with €800k pay rates (due to fraud, basically).

It is a stressful job at times.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Striking is our National sport, it’s not something we can deny.
But staff shortages are a problem. People are getting older and retiring new people who are both suitable and willing don’t want to do the job. It’s stressfull, lots of changes in hours, you are subject to relocation and your mistakes if not picked up by a colleague are published for everyone to see.
But here we are also seeing a shortage of doctors in rural locations, a shortage of plumbers, electricians, masons, painters and carpenters.
They are all well paying jobs and the last few certainly don’t carry the same stress factors as the first 2. But still young people don’t want to fill those jobs.
It might be country specific and here the government is trying all sorts of measures to get young people to go into these métiers (careers?).


It’ s a problem everywhere. Either young people are not interested in the job (fair enough), or they fail somewhere along the training trajectory (less than 50% succesrate) or they succeed but (a significant amount) doesn’t want the lifestyle anymore as soon as they start having kids. Then you start to see all kinds of summer-illnesses.

EBST, Belgium

However, a lot of these factors are not new. We’ve had the “Ipad generation” for at least 10 years now.

There is definitely a “post-covid disease” everywhere, which often manifests itself as people trading a highly paid job (few jobs are as highly paid as ATC) for a lower paid job which is more pleasant / nearer to home / etc. And generally this move is made by the best people – because they have the most options in life. So the industry needs to listen to this and deliver a better working experience.

Looking at NATS for example, they have centralised a lot of ops to Swanwick (near Southampton). I would think the majority of people had to either leave, or relocate, which is a really crappy option for nearly everybody, destroying schooling, family life, etc. A stupid decision by a stupid “high corporate” organisation run by a load of “on-message” people and which demands total conformity. You see this when you visit, and you see it from the disgraceful way NATS people post on social media. That area is also one of worst places to live in the south of England, with a high population density destroying quality of life and with permanent traffic jams on most roads. I don’t know what France is doing; are they centralising ops near Paris?

Maybe this is a job which should be decentralised, so people can enjoy their life better. Meet ATCOs at Swanwick (area) or Gatwick (tower) and you can see immediately they are stressed out like hell. Meet tower ATCOs at little places and they are generally funny and happy people, despite dealing with a similar order of movements (per controller), and getting a lot less money.

I also wonder how much of this is unions trying to stop changes in the industry. The industry has suffered badly (in Europe) via union-backed practices like the €800k salary frauds in Spain. The UK had these too, in the news printing industry, where the unions were so powerful that even HMRC had to back off and do an amnesty, but those practices were smashed by Maggie in the 1980s. It is pretty obvious that the widespread ELP problems in French ATC (no way do most have a genuine ELP4) must be backed by somebody powerful.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

You keep harping on about French ATCOs ELP levels. Personally, I don’t have a problem with them in English or French but you obviously do and possibly many others do also. But that is unlikely to change. In fact it is probably less likely since Brexit. French kids used to do a lot of educational exchanges with UK kids, the French au pair maybe a running joke in the UK, but were a reality, pubs and restaurants in the UK also employed a lot of young French people. (The employers got enthusiastic young people who didn’t see waiting on tables as a menial work).
The young people got the experience of living and working in a foreign country and a good grounding in conversational English by being immersed in the language. That has stopped for the most part now, as young people aren’t going to go through the processes and pay the fees.
Secondly Covid did probably lead to many people looking at work more suited to their quality of life than to simply making money.
As to your other question about control centres. AFAIK there are still 4 possibly 5 ( I have always had thid mental blockage between number of ACCs and FIRs, if I had to do the exams again this is one thing I’d need to swat up on) Area Control Centres in France. Paris is one of them. (If its still called Paris and not Seine)🙃

I don’t know anything about €800,000 frauds

Last Edited by gallois at 15 Jul 08:25

Personally, I don’t have a problem with them

That is exactly as expected, and for well known reasons. Here – 1st two paras. And please note this is not from me; it is from a very well know ELP examiner in France and while he is not exactly French native he is “French” so he is allowed to say this, and I am only reporting it

The intensity of French ATC strikes (the topic) is interesting. I would not like to imagine how it affects airline ops. Various astronomical numbers are being thrown about on cancelled/delayed flights due to these strikes. Airlines fly differently to GA in that they are mostly upper airspace (FL200+) so maybe different ATC sectors, but that is even more curious since lower airspace is virtually empty (in Europe) outside terminal areas. IFR GA is negligible. But maybe the number of controllers allocated to lower airspace is too low so even a single GA flight pushes things over the edge. Yesterday was a nightmare.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Sure, but I would still consider it poor planning having planned an IFR flight across most of France on a 14/7. Ever since, France is no go for me on that specific day, which is totally unique. Nobody wants to work in France in summer, and even less so on 14/7.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

I’m not sure what point you are trying to make.
I’m sure James is correct. I know him and the professional service he offers.
Where I would disagree with him was a previous time you quoted him regarding kids at school having the rise taken out of them, when speaking English if they didn’t have a posh English accent.
The only thing I can think that comes close is from Asterix cartoons. In one there is an English Knight who in the French versions speaks French with an English accent. A bit like the airmen in ‘Allo Allo’.
Kids thought that all English sounded like this so when they tried to speak English, they thought it was the right pronunciation to sound like these people.
In other words kids growing up and learning English during the time of the Beatles would have tried to speak English with a Scouse accent.


I would still consider it poor planning having planned an IFR flight across most of France on a 14/7

With respect, Bosco, the Elba fly-in was notified here for months, and ~1500 people were emailed about it (yourself included), and how many came up with warnings about this kind of stuff? Exactly… nobody.

We could plan a fly-in to Place X, where X is totally shut from a week before to a week after, and how many people here from X will tell anybody about it? Zero. It’s happened loads of times, too. EuroGA is a community site.

It gets a bit frustrating at times, you know…

Fortunately most made it. I think they either flew VFR or avoided France.

when speaking English if they didn’t have a posh English accent.

when speaking English if they didn’t do it with the strong French accent… that is what makes “French English” poorly intelligible to non French people

Not sure I would call it “posh” but maybe it was regarded thus over here 100 years ago.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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