France’s airlines to axe 50% of flights amid planned air traffic control strike

Airlines in France have been told to halve their number of scheduled flights ahead of a one-day strike by air traffic controllers.

Civil aviation authority DGAC has advised airlines to whittle down their timetables for Friday (16 September), when industrial action is expected to result in many grounded planes across the country.

Air France will axe about 55 per cent of its short and medium-haul flights, it said.

The state-owned airline will also cancel about 10 per cent of its long-haul flights, it added.

Trade union SNCTA said the country’s air traffic controllers are planning to strike nationwide in demand for higher wages – amid rising inflation – and for the hiring of more staff.

DGAC said it has been working with European air travel regulator Eurocontrol to make sure airlines avoid airspace over France.

In Italy, a strike scheduled for Monday (19 September) is also expected to affect some domestic flights.

Some unionised ground staff are set to walk out for 24 hours over pay and their contractual terms and conditions.

Italian state-owned airline ITA Airways said it had cancelled several domestic flights at airports in Bologna, Rome, Florence and Venice in advance of the strike action. It also warned that other scheduled flights may be subject to changes.

Passengers affected by the strike action in either country are advised to contact the airlines as they may be entitled to compensation.

Across Europe this summer, discontent among airport and airline staff has resulted in a number of strikes that have affected air travel, just as the industry faces soaring post-pandemic demand.

Many industrial disputes were over wages failing to catch up with the soaring cost of living, that is partly driven by rising inflation.

Among the strikes was action taken at the end of June by French air traffic controllers in Marseille, which resulted in mass cancellations.

Flights to and from Spain, Italy, and the UK were also affected due to flights that would normally pass through French airspace.

Several strikes by firefighters and staff at Paris’ two airports – Charles de Gaulle and Orly – resulted in a number of flights cancelled and delayed in June and July.

On 17 July, two separate strikes by Italian pilots and flight attendants overlapped. As many as 500 flights were cancelled by several airlines.

It was the third round of industrial action taken by Italian pilots and flight attendants in the space of a month.

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