UPDATED: A six-day French air traffic controller’s strike beginning today is expected to cause misery and chaos for travellers.
One of the two main controllers’ unions is striking from today (Tuesday June 24) until Sunday June 29 in support of protests over planned cuts to navigation services in France between 2015 and 2019.
This action has been taken ahead of next Monday’s so-called deadline (June 30) for the presentation of new air traffic control plans to the European Commission in Brussels. A second union whose management were originally threatening to join the strike action has withdrawn overnight. However, widespread cancellations and re-routing are already in force according to airlines and Eurocontrol, the leading European ATC coordinator working closely with all airports and airlines.
Aéroports de Paris is already advising all of its customers to check with their airlines before travelling and widespread disruption of more than 50% of all scheduled flights through French airports is being threatened by the action.
Air France warned all of its passengers today that the French Civil Aviation Authority has instructed all airlines to reduce their flight schedules today (24 June) by 20% to/from Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, as well as to and from airports in the Paris region for flights to the South of France, the Iberian peninsula and North Africa.
Easyjet has already cancelled several flights and other carriers are doing exactly the same. As with Ryanair, most of the cancelled flights do not involve UK airports and originate or terminate in France.
EASYJET AND RYANAIR CANCELLATIONS
All passengers to these destinations are being advised to rearrange their flights or exchange them for a voucher beyond the strike end date next Sunday.
Meanwhile, easyJet has already been informed that it must cancel approximately 25% of its services to France, including flights specifically from Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Paris Orly, and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Besides the cancellations, Ryanair management is also concerned that the strike may also disrupt flights overflying France.
While it is refunding these tickets, it added: “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.”
Ryanair has also advised its passengers of multiple cancellations. It said today: “This ATC strike may also affect flights overflying France and we expect further flight delays and cancellations. Customers flying between 24- 25 June will be updated on their flight status via email and/or the mobile phone number you provided at time of booking.”
As of this morning (Tuesday 24 June) Ryanair has cancelled 26 flights so far to several destinations, although none involving UK airports. Destination cancellations today – including multiple flights in some instances – involve Figari (Corsica); Porto; Tangier; Rabat; Rome Ciampino; Zaragosa; Malaga; Cagliari; Barcelona El Prat; Palma Mallorca; and some French domestic routes.
Meanwhile, British Airways released the following statement this morning: “As a result of industrial action by air traffic controllers in France we are expecting disruption to some of our services between Tuesday 24 June and Sunday 29 June. 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 would like to apologise to customers for any disruption to their travel plans. 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.”
[TOP IMAGE: Those French air traffic controllers who remain at work today will be kept extremely busy as long as this strike continues].