Published on Monday, March 21, 2016

Hundreds of flights cancelled in French ATC strike

Airlines have been told to cancel hundreds of flights due to strikes called by French air traffic controllers.

The industrial action, which began on Sunday, is due to continue today (Monday) and tomorrow.

The French Civil Aviation Authority has told all airlines to downsize their flight schedules to and from Paris Orly, Lyon, Marseille and Nice.

As well as affecting flights to and from and within France, the action is also impacting other flights from the UK which cross French air space.

Ryanair cancelled dozens of flights on Sunday and has cancelled more than 130 on Monday, including services from London Stansted to Marrakech, Fuerteventura, Lisbon, Palma, Madrid, Jerez, Santander, and Lanzarote, Manchester to Alicante, Murcia and Lisbon, and other flights from Glasgow, London Luton, Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Cardiff, Dublin, Bournemouth, Liverpool, and Birmingham.

It condemned the strikes, which are in protest against plans to lower the rate at which retiring air traffic controllers are replaced.

"It's grossly unfair that thousands of ordinary European consumers have their travel and holiday plans disrupted by the actions of a selfish few," said Ryanair head of communications Robin Kiely.

British Airways refused to disclose how many flights it has cancelled but said it was using larger aircraft and re-routing some flights to try to help as many customers as possible get to where they need to be.

"We are sorry that this industrial action in France at a busy time of year is causing inconvenience and frustration for airline customers around Europe," it said.

"We are advising customers to keep checking on our website for the very latest information about their flights."

EasyJet has also 'proactively' cancelled dozens of flights and said it will SMS affected passengers.

"Like all airlines, our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying in French airspace, could be affected," it warned.

Air France warned of last minute cancellations and delays but said it planned to operate its long-haul programme and all flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle, which is unaffected.

The newly formed lobbying group, Airlines For Europe (A4E), said last year more than 10,000 flights operated by its members were affected by 28 days of ATC strikes in Europe.

"The negative impact of ATC strikes on European Aviation is a key issue for our airlines and their customers, said its Thomas Reynaert.

"The European Commission must stand up for consumers and promote their rights. We urge all parties involved to develop and agree on an action plan and A4E will take the lead, seeking urgent working sessions with all stakeholders. We just can't just spoil the Easter holiday break of European travellers."

A4E's members are currently Air France KLM, easyJet, Finnair, International Airlines Group (IAG), Lufthansa Group, Norwegian and Ryanair.

Meanwhile, Spain is due to be hit by a 24-hour national rail strike on Wednesday.

If it goes ahead, the Foreign Office said only minimum services would operate and warned of likely disruption.

Eurostar services might also be hit over the Easter weekend after St Pancras-based RMT union members voted overwhelming in favour of industrial action over lone working rules.

The union had originally suggested a strike on Good Friday was a possibility, but this has yet to be confirmed as talks with management are still ongoing.

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  • The families pay the price.. again

    It really is time that someone, somewhere actually does something about the French controllers holding Europe to ransom. They do it year in , year out, at Christmas and Easter. Let Brusels do something positive for a change. If they go on strike, affecting the consumer, we should take a leaf out of the US book, and sack them all, put in the military, and allow families to enjoy a well earned easter break. I note, with dismay, that CDG is not affected . Disgusting.

    By Elaine Molyneux, Monday, March 21, 2016

  • Boycott the Frogs

    Why don't those who can, vote with their feet by travelling to countries that deserve visitors and don't treat them like dirt? I was delayed this morning as my inbound from CPT was rerouted round Gallic airspace.

    By Allen Maclean, Monday, March 21, 2016

  • What about the rerouting impact?

    Not only are hundreds of flights cancelled, but hundreds more are re-routed to avoid French airspace. The costs of this, in cash, disruption & environmental terms ultimately fall on the consumer. To many people, including large parts of French society, the Right to Strike is sacred. Isn't it about time that this 'right' was curtailed if it impacts more than 100 times more people than those who wish to withdraw their labour?

    By Peter Lewis, Monday, March 21, 2016

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