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One-in-five Lyon flights hit

UPDATE: Skiers face leaving skis at airport as security strike causes delays at Charles-de-Gaulle and Toulouse

AROUND 20% of flights at Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport were cancelled today due to continuing strike action by security staff that has seen almost no flights since Friday.

Airport authorities said that 80% managed to get away, with many facing of delays of about an hour.

However, to get the flights cleared without security staff they had had to stop passengers taking oversize baggage such as skis etc - in what is a main airport for the nearby Alpine ski resorts. Only departing flights were affected; not incoming flights.

The airport press office said airlines or travel companies would take passengers' oversize items such as skis and snowboards and make sure they were forwarded once the dispute was over.

The strike also had a knock-on effect at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle, where long queues were reported at some terminals, with the long-haul terminals 2E and 2F being worst-hit. There are delays, though less severe, at A, 2B, 2C and 2D terminals but the airport said most of the expected 93,000 passengers on the 640 flights yesterday got through without major problems. Overall, the delays averaged 40 minutes.

Orly Airport has not been affected, although some delays were reported at Toulouse.

Airlines should be contacting passengers directly if their flights are affected by delays or cancellations.

Coming as the Christmas holidays start to get underway - with most people heading off on Friday after schools break up - Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said she backed plans to impose the same minimum service for airport personnel as already applies on the railways.

She said that at the moment it was impossible to make plans to cope with a strike as strikers did not have to declare their intentions before they were due to start work.

Employment Minister Xavier Bertrand also supports the move to make airport personnel such as security, fuelling and luggage loading staff declare their intention to strike two days in advance.

Flight controllers already have to make this declaration, which allows managers to rearrange shift patterns, warn passengers and maintain a minimum service.

The security officers - who are employed by sub-contractors Brink's and not by Lyon airport - are protesting over cuts in jobs and are demanding extra pay. A meeting yesterday to search for a solution broke up after only 20 minutes.

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