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Strike grounds flights

A traveller looks at a flightboard at a French airport.

A traveller looks at a flightboard at a French airport.

PARIS — European travellers are facing further disruption because of an ongoing strike by French air traffic controllers.

More than a quarter of flights from France’s busiest airports had to be cancelled today amid protests at plans for a single European airspace.

Controllers say the plans will affect public safety and working conditions.

Airlines based outside France have also suffered upheaval. Ryanair was forced to cancel more than 240 flights today, while EasyJet scrapped 128.

Air traffic workers elsewhere in Europe were expected to join the French strikers by working to rule, picketing and distributing leaflets.

Major French airports, including Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux were all said to have been affected by the three-day strike called by the European Transport Workers’ Federation.

The French Directorate General for Civil Aviation said the strike action had intensified today, forcing the cancellation of about 1,800 flights for a second day in France. “Nearly 100 per cent” of France’s air traffic controllers were participating in the strike, it added.

On Tuesday, the DGAC said it had asked airlines to cancel 50 per cent of their services and advised travellers to contact them for further information.

Flights through French airspace were also expected to be axed today, and passengers bound for other European destinations were told to prepare for delays of up to four hours.

The budget airline Ryanair said it had been forced to cancel 200 flights on Tuesday and would cancel another 250 today as a result of the strike action.

A statement called on the European Commission to remove air traffic controllers’ right to strike.

“It is grossly unfair that thousands of passengers had and will have their plans disrupted as a result of Europe being held to ransom by tiny numbers of French air traffic controllers,” it added.

The rival airline, EasyJet, also said it had cancelled 256 flights since Tuesday.

The ETF has said the strikes aim to “stop a never ending process of liberalisation, deregulation and cost-cutting in the Air Traffic Management industry”. (BBC)

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