French Air Traffic Strike Leads to Widespread Flight Cancellations
PHOTO: Passengers endure long delays at London's Heathrow International Airport as a result of the latest French air traffic strike. (via Twitter)
An ongoing two-day strike organized by France's largest union, SNCTA, has resulted in a shortage of air traffic controllers and widespread flight cancellations across the country, according to BBC.com.
According to FlightAware.com, European carriers Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways have combined to cancel 380-plus flights for Wednesday as of 10 a.m. ET (4 p.m. local time), with many of those cancellations impacting travelers in other destinations across Europe.
France's top international airport, Charles de Gaulle is closing in on 80 flight cancellations as of Wednesday afternoon, while other airports like Nice Cote d'Azur, Paris Orly, Toulouse-Blagnac and Marseille Provence have also experienced dozens of delays and cancellations.
Real-time air traffic tracker FlightRadar24 reveals the significant dropoff in air traffic over France on Wednesday as compared to Tuesday:
About 40-50% less traffic over France because of the French ATC strike. Left pic (yesterday) Right pic (today) pic.twitter.com/HJqyv1G8lP— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) April 8, 2015
"We sincerely apologise to all customers affected by this unwarranted strike action and we call on the EU and French authorities to take measures to prevent any further disruption," said budget carrier Ryanair in a statement. "It's grossly unfair that thousands of European travellers will once again have their travel plans disrupted by the selfish actions of a tiny number of French [air traffic control] workers."
EasyJet also released a statement to inform travelers:
"EasyJet can assure its passengers it is doing everything possible to limit the inconvenience of this strike on them. We are advising all affected passengers of any flight changes via e-mail and SMS."
The air traffic controllers are striking over both working and retirement conditions, with the French civil aviation authority specifying that one of the issues centers on the decision to raise the retirement age for air traffic controllers from 67 to 69.
The disruptions throughout France and parts of Europe are expected to continue through Thursday as pointed out by Eurocontrol on Twitter. And unless some middle ground is reached soon, future headaches appear unavoidable.
French strike: DSNA have confirmed they are asking airlines to cancel 50% of flights tomorrow— EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 8, 2015
Additional strikes by SNCTA have been planned for April 16-18 and April 29-May 2.
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