Industrial action in the air: impact of air traffic control strikes on flight efficiency
This paper analyses the causal impact of industrial actions at air navigation service providers on flight efficiency within the European air transport network. We match detailed flight trajectory data with information on the timing and location of all European air traffic control strikes between 2015 and 2017. Controlling for the endogenous timing of the strikes, we estimate the additional horizontal distance flown by affected flights. On average, flights that cross airspace sectors that are affected by strike action cover an additional 11 kilometres. The aggregate flight efficiency impact accumulates to 4.7 million kilometres flown during the 2015 – 2017 period. This impact is substantial as compared to another common type of airspace disruption, technical failures. Given that the efficiency impacts are concentrated in countries where overflights are not guaranteed, EU-wide minimum service requirements for overflights appears to be an effective policy to preserve efficiency of the air transport system in the face of industrial action.
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