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French air traffic controllers begin a six-day strike

UK air passengers are being warned to expect delays from today as French air traffic controllers begin a six-day strike which is likely to affect flights across Europe.

Ryanair has already cancelled 26 flights to an from France and British Airways has cancelled three return services from Heathrow to Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille.

EasyJet has cancelled 28 flights, but none from UK airports.

Airlines said they would update customers daily on further cancellations.

BA said: "The level of disruption is likely to fluctuate in different parts of France at different parts of each day.

"Unfortunately this industrial action is also highly likely to lead to delays on other short-haul services which have to overfly France."

"We expect to receive information from the French authorities the day before each strike event as to the levels of mandated cancellations for all airlines on each route.

"We aim to publish our revised schedules by 1400 GMT each day for the following day's flights."

A statement on the EasyJet website said: "For cancelled flights, all our customers will be offered a free of charge transfer to a new flight or a full refund.

"We strongly advise customers who wish to travel and want to rebook easyJet flights to AVOID rebooking flights for any day between 24th-30th June as there is a high likelihood of further disruption that could cause further cancellations."

Eurocontrol, a European air safety organisation, estimated the action would cause 830,000 minutes, or almost 14,000 hours, of delays.

A similar walkout last year led to the cancellation of around 1,800 flights a day across Europe including services to and from the UK.

There are estimated to be around 350 direct flights between Britain and France during the planned strike period.

Members of the two biggest air traffic controllers' unions in France originally voted for a six-day strike from Tuesday in protest at budget cuts. However, the scale of the disruption is expected to be less than originally feared as one of the unions dropped its plan for industrial action.

Ryanair has urged the French Government and the European Union to intervene to prevent further cancellations and delays on Wednesday.

The airline said thousands of people are having their flights cancelled or delayed due to a small minority of air traffic controllers.

It said the EU should open up the skies over Europe and allow neighbouring ATC providers such as the Irish, British, German or Belgian ATC to keep the skies over France open while French ATC workers go on strike every summer.

Ryanair's chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said: "It is high time the EU Commission removed these air traffic controllers' right to strike, in the same way as ATC in the US, and many of Europe's armies and police forces, are prohibited from striking by law, to stop Europe being held to ransom by a small number of air traffic controllers every summer."

 

Source of news: Travelmole.com 

24th Jun 14

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