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Hey, Who's Up for a Series of Crushing European Airport Strikes?

June 12, 2013 at 6:21 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's the season of airport strikes, during which unions - maybe justifiably, maybe not - burn whatever sympathy the public has for them by grinding airports to a halt. Every single time some group of airport or airline workers tries something like this, travelers followed by huge swaths of the public turn against the strikers. And yet here we are, all together, again.

This time it's a strike by French air traffic controllers. First the walkout resulted in the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights in France—60 percent of the country's flights—and then it began cascading across Europe.

Heathrow officials reported that about two-thirds of the airport's flights into France had been cancelled. Even better, the air traffic controllers union says they're ready to repeat the stunt across 11 countries. The action is set to last until Thursday.

As for what politicians would call the optics of the walkout, play this out in your mind: the reason that the air traffic controllers are angry is because there's a plan being worked out under which air traffic systems across Europe would be consolidated, simplified, and partially handed over to private companies. Right now Europe is divided into air traffic zones that don't quite make sense, and this plan would streamline areas into regional blocs and then open those blocs up for companies to go to work.

So in order to show the public that it's a good idea to leave European air travel the way it is, they're grinding European air travel to a halt.

And in order to show the public that it's a bad idea to hire new workers for their existing jobs, they're walking out of their existing jobs.

We're not certain that the unions have thought their brilliant plan all the way through.

[Photo: Bradley Wells / Flickr]

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