In 2018, the aviation industry experienced more strikes than in 5 previous years put together. Air traffic control strikes accounted for 5,000 cancelled flights last summer – and the airlines expect the number to increase this summer. Adding together airline crew, ATC and airport staff strikes, you can expect about 10 strikes a month. Currently, the security staff at London Luton airport is undergoing a weeks-long strike.
Struck by a strike? If the wait is longer than 2 hours, demand care from the airline’s personnel. Your airline should provide you with free e-mail or free fax, two free phone calls, meals & drinks – ask their local staff. If it goes overnight, it should ensure accommodation at a hotel as well as the transport to the hotel and back to the airport.
However, flight disruptions due to strikes are not eligible for flight compensation. There are some exceptions when it comes to striking airline staff (as opposed to employees at the airport), though some airlines only agree to pay for wildcat – unsanctioned – strikes.
Statistically, French and Italian ATCs are the most likely to strike. But even in the case of such cancellations, you should still be offered either rerouting or a refund. If the rerouting takes you to an airport other than the original destination of the cancelled flight, the airline has to provide transportation to take you where you are intended to go.