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Strike hits 52% of Air France flights

Airline calls on passengers to cancel trips as pilots’ dispute affects one in two services – with fears of worse to come

STRIKE-HIT Air France has asked passengers to delay their trips if possible as action by pilots has left one in two planes stuck on the ground – with the possibility of more flights being cancelled.

It said it expected only 48% of flights to take off today but is trying to help passengers by using larger planes on the services that do fly. However, it added that passengers whose flights were affected should not go to the airport unless they had organised an alternative flight.

EasyJet has taken advantage of the disruption and added an extra 1,000 seats on its Paris-Toulouse and Paris-Nice routes, while Air Corsica is also offering extra seats to Ajaccio. SNCF is also adding 10,500 extra seats - with 4,500 on services to the west coast and 6,000 to the south for Marseille and Montpellier.

Passengers have been asked to cancel their flights, at no cost, over the period of the strike and rebook them.

Air France said in a press statement: “Customers can postpone their trip until between 23 and 30 September 2014, at no extra cost, subject to availability. Customers whose flight is cancelled will receive a full refund.

“They can also choose to receive a voucher valid for one year on Air France or KLM to postpone their trip beyond 30 September 2014, to change their destination or departure airport or if they choose not to travel.”

Air France said 60% of pilots had joined the strike in protest against the company’s plan to develop its low-cost subsidiary Transavia, where pay and conditions are lower.

The main pilots’ union, SNPL, has called a strike from today until September 22, while two other unions Spaf and Alter are out until the 18th.

There are fears that the strike could eventually disrupt 80% of flights and company bosses are meeting pilots’ union leaders this morning to try to negotiate a settlement.

Unions say the Air France plans to grow Transavia from 14 to 37 planes in five years and set up new low-cost bases in Europe will see jobs cut within the company and staff being hired on local, and not French, contracts. The company says the proposals will create 1,000 jobs including 250 for pilots.

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