French air traffic control strike: Travel warning issued and flights cancelled due to 12-hour staff walkout
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UK holidaymakers and travellers have been warned of fresh disruptions following ongoing strike action by staff at French air traffic control, forcing dozens of flights to be cancelled. The industrial action takes place from 6pm on Monday (June 5) to 6am on Wednesday June 7.
France’s civil aviation authority has advised airlines to cancel up to 30 percent of flights on strike days at some airports, with the walkouts likely affecting Paris’ Orly, Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais airports as well as Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Nice.
According to the most recent update, Air France will conduct all long-haul flights as well as all flights to and from Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. However, it is expected that three out of every 10 flights from Paris-Orly Airport and some other airports would be cancelled.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger counts, has presented the European Commission with a petition signed by 1.1 million customers requesting that flights, particularly those flying over France, be protected against air traffic control strikes.
CEO Michael O’Leary said last week that France’s location meant the cancellation of flights merely passing through its airspace during local strikes was particularly disruptive and polluting.
He had said: “(During the strike days) Our flights are full and we’re being forced to cancel flights. There is a simple solution for this. Other member states (Greece, Italy, and Spain) have laws that protect overflights.
Ryanair said it called on the Commission to protect 100% of overflights, require a 21-day notice of strike action and a 72-hour notice of employee participation in ATC strikes, among other measures.
Ryanair also stated that the 57-day strike period, which occurred over the first five months of the year, forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, and that the strike rate was 10 times higher than in 2022.
Why are the French air control staff striking?
Air traffic controllers and members of the French national rail company SNCF are on strike in protest of its president, Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms, which will see the retirement age in France increase from 62 to 64.
As French state pensions are financed by income tax, the changes would also require workers to contribute to the generous state pension scheme for an extended period of time.