Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Tue May 31 2016

Could an Air France Pilots Strike Affect the UEFA Soccer Championship?

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | May 31, 2016

Could an Air France Pilots Strike Affect the UEFA Soccer Championship?

As world soccer tournaments go, many consider the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Championship to be second only to the World Cup.

People from all over the world flock to the UEFA tourney, which lasts for a month. This year, the June 10-July 10 event is being held in France in such major cities as Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Nice and six others.

But you can’t watch what you can’t see, and tournament organizers are worried that a proposed strike by Air France pilots will affect the UEFA Championship.

The head of the SNPL union, Phillippe Evain, told Reuters New Service that more than two-thirds of the union’s pilots have approved a strike, although he stopped short of committing to a definitive date for the walkout.

What worries soccer officials is that Air France pilots did the same thing in 1998 when France hosted the World Cup, returning to work just a day before the world’s greatest spectacle began.

This year’s Euro 2016 soccer tournament is expected to draw 2.5 million people to stadiums around France.

The strike was in protest against the airline's "obsessive reduction of costs," Evain said.

A labor walkout would be another blow to French President Francois Hollande and his controversial labor reform bill, which prompted violent protests in Paris last week. The bill makes it easier for employers to hire and fire employees at will.

Between the clashes last week and November’s tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, "The scenes of guerrilla-type action in the middle of Paris, beamed around the world, reinforce the feeling of fear and misunderstanding," the tourist board said in a statement.

In addition, a rolling national train strike called by the CGT union is expected to start tonight, affecting half the service on national and regional lines, according to some estimates.

Workers who belong to the CGT plan to strike on the Paris Metro and commuter trains on Thursday. 

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