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France aviation strike hampers flight schedules

9 April 2015 22:32


Airlines in France have cancelled hundreds of flights and many more have been delayed across the country as air traffic controllers push ahead with their general strike.

France’s civil aviation authority has asked airlines to scrap around half of their flights to, from and inside France to avoid chaos in airports.

Earlier, it asked airlines to cancel only 40% of their flights, and advised passengers to check possible alteration in their flights.

Flag carrier, Air France, had warned passengers of a “very severe disruption” in its flights’ schedules.The airline said it would try its best to avoid delays, but added, “We cannot rule out last-minute delays and cancellations.”

Other operators followed suit, making changes in flight schedules and cancelling hundreds of flights around France due to the walkout.

Thursday’s industrial action ends the second day of a two-day strike by French airports flight control staff.

The air traffic controllers union, which organized the event, has threatened to do two more instances of industrial action during key holiday periods on April 16 to 18 and April 29 to May 2, if their demands are not met by the authorities until then.

This file photo taken on September 17, 2014 shows the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport’s empty control tower. (© AFP)
Bone of contention

French National Union of Air Traffic Controllers, also known as the SNCTA, demands that French civil transport officials hold talks with union representatives over working conditions, and particularly, change the retirement age, currently set at 59 years, to 57.

Roger Rousseau, head of the 4,000-strong air traffic controllers’ union, said, “Since 2013, we’ve been taken for a ride, meeting after meeting.”

Flowers are pictured in front of a stela in the French Alps commemorating the victims of the March 24, 2015 Germanwings Airbus A320 crash. (© AFP)
The SNCTA had originally decided to hold the strike from March 25 to 27 but reconsidered its decision due to emotional impact from the recent Germanwings crash in the French Alps that killed 150.

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