Editor's Blog

One strike and you're out...

This week I found myself caught up in the French air traffic control strike. When I say caught up, it wasn’t really all that dramatic; I was lucky enough to have a family member’s villa to stay in for a bonus day of holiday in the French sun... but a look around all the panic in the airport and on social media and it was easy to see this was causing a huge ripple effect all around Europe.

The strike grounded an estimated 500 flights and delayed many more – especially connecting the UK with Spain and Italy. The official statement from the USAC-CGT union was that its members would strike from Monday to Wednesday morning, “for the defence of public service,” adding: “We must resist the erosion of human rights.”

In a country that deals with and handles more flights than any other country in Europe, on account of its size and position of its territory, this caused absolute mayhem.

There were panicked phone calls, hurried rearranging of meetings and airport terminals full of disillusioned, hot, tired and crumpled passengers. 

As always, in times of crisis, Twitter was alight with the war cries of hundreds of angry passengers who couldn’t get to their destinations. A big insurance conference in Madrid saw attendees stranded for up to nine hours on the tarmac at various French airports and event planners aplenty found themselves unable to get to their planned meetings and events.

As an industry, we travel a lot more than the average 9-5 worker, we are at the mercy of trains, planes and automobiles and primed to prepare for the worst and get the show on the road come rain or shine, but sometimes Murphy’s Law, Mother Nature, or air traffic controllers have other ideas.
Back in March at the M&IT Awards an act of God (as insurers would call it) decided to dump a shedload of snow on proceedings and ground a few hundred flights - and just last week at IMEX, thunderstorms decided to wreak havoc in Germany, with many hosted buyers having to deal with cancelled or severely delayed flights. The show must go on, just minus a busload of attendees.
At certain hugely unfortunate times like these, even the most organised, fastidious to detail event planner or attendee just cannot get to an event through hell, high water, or as it happens, a load of angry French air traffic controllers on strike.

Short of building a raft and starting to paddle frantically off the coast of Nice, one sometimes has to admit defeat and head off to read EasyJet’s small print terms and conditions with a magnifying glass.
Have you been caught up in the French strikes or missed an event or conference due to a situation completely out of your control? We’d love to hear from you... 

Email: lsaxton@CATMedia.global

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