Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes – What are your compensation rights?

This Summer has been plagued by Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes in various European countries as well as strikes by Airline staff. The most notable Airline Strike has been the recent one by Mixed Fleet staff of British Airways who are members of Unite trade Union.

The EU regulation 261/2004 only triggers compensation when the flight is delayed by three or more hours unless the Airline can claim that the delay was due to “extraordinary circumstances”. Extraordinary circumstances are such acts that are not inherent in the day to day activity of an Airline.
ATC strikes are beyond the control of the Airline and are deemed to be “extraordinary circumstances”. However, there are two qualifications to Extraordinary circumstances being:

  • the existence and link between the extraordinary circumstances and the delay or the cancellation and
  • the fact that this delay or cancellation could not have been avoided although it took all reasonable circumstances.

Extract from Interpretative guidelines on Regulations Brussels 10.06.2016

Whilst an Airline may claim that a scheduled ATC has led to scheduled flights being canceled it must be shown that once the ATC strike is called off or ends that services are reinstated as soon as practicable. Furthermore, a strike affecting an incoming flight may not always count as extraordinary circumstances as this does not affect the flight in question.

A strike by Airline staff causing a delay or cancellation of a flight does not allow the Airline to claim extraordinary circumstances as pay and working conditions are deemed to be within the control of the Airlines.  This is, therefore, a valid claim for compensation.

What are your rights if your decision to abandon a flight following a strike by Airline staff?  These differ depending on whether the flight was delayed or canceled.


If your flight was delayed by more than 5 hours rather than canceled you are only entitled to a refund of the cost of the ticket.


In these circumstances, you are entitled to compensation from the Airline and a refund of the cost of the flight.

What are my rights if I decide to join a delayed flight after 3 hours?  In these circumstances, you will be entitled to EU261/2004 compensation depending on the distance of the flight.

What is the situation if the delay or cancellation is due to an ATC Strike?  As described above No EU 261/2004 compensation is payable but you will be entitled to:

  • A refund of the ticket price on the used portion or to be re-routed to your final destination.
  • The Airline may also re-book you at no additional charge.

What if I am stranded abroad?

EU Regulations say that if the Airline is registered in the EU or flew from an EU Airport the Airline is liable for the cost of hotel accommodation and subsistence until a replacement flight is found.

It takes only a couple of minutes to submit your details if you think you have a valid claim. Call us on 01342 889777 for immediate assistance or use our clever online claim checker.

We at Flight Delay Pay understand your pain, so let us take the strain and handle your claim. No win, no fee!