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Published on Thursday, December 5, 2019

Hundreds of flights cancelled as strikes bring France to a virtual standstill

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled and other transport has been brought to a standstill as a general strike starts in France today.

The three-day strike is affecting air travel, rail, the Paris metro and ferry services. Even the Eiffel Tower has been closed as staff walk out in protest.

Due to strikes by French air traffic controllers, EastJet has cancelled around 230 flights and said it expects delays to other services.

It's not just flights to and from France that are affected: those flying to other destinations but across French air space could also be impacted.

"Although this situation is outside of our control we would like to apologise to any affected passengers for the inconvenience caused," said easyJet.

Ryanair and British Airways have also cancelled flights but did not disclose the extent of the disruption.

British Airways is operating a flexible re-booking policy for all flights to and from French airports, plus Barcelona, Madrid, Basel, Geneva and Zurich.

Air France has been forced to cancel 30% of its domestic flights, 15% of its medium-haul flights but is operating all long-haul services.

It said flights to and from Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseilles, Toulouse and Bordeaux will be hit and also warned of last minute delays and cancellations.

With fears the strikes could continue beyond the three days, possibly until the New Year, Eurostar is operating a reduced timetable from today until December 10.

Brittany Ferries has cancelled ferries from Portsmouth and St Malo and also to Le Havre due to industrial action at the two French ports. P&O Ferries is also expecting disruption to its services this afternoon.

The strikes are in protest to changes to the French pension system.

In Paris, 6,000 police have been drafted in as the capital prepares itself for major demonstrations.

The Foreign Office advised visitors to avoid demonstrations where possible. The Paris protest is due to start at 2pm local time at Gare du Nord and end at Nation.

Only five of the 16 Paris Metro lines are running and only 10% of the country's trains will be operating.

Public transport in other major cities has also been affected.

The FCO said further protests by yellow vest (gilets jaunes) protestors are expected in other cities across the country.

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