We take a look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week.
1. The rail and airline strikes planned for the weeks ahead
Passengers travelling on trains and planes may be impacted by strike-related disruption in the coming weeks, as SNCF, Ryanair and airport workers plan industrial action.
Today (July 1), up to 10% of flights have been cancelled at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, as the airport reduces its schedule as a result of a firefighter strike. Of all the flights departing from or arriving in Charles de Gaulle and Orly, 17% have been cancelled today between 07:00 and 14:00.
This action, which also caused disruption yesterday (June 30), has forced the airport to close some of its runways.
The striking workers are asking for their pay scale to be revised, considering “the difficulties in recruiting [staff] at the bottom of the scale”.
Airport workers have also been called to join a “multi-sector” strike beginning today and potentially lasting until Sunday (July 3). Protests are planned in front of Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E and Orly Terminal 4, and passengers should expect some delays.
Staff at Aéroports de Paris, which manages both of these airports, are demanding a 6% pay rise, applied retroactively from January, while the management are currently offering 3%.
Aéroports de Paris is advising passengers to arrive three hours in advance of longer haul flights and “two hours [before] for domestic or European flights” today.
SNCF workers have been called to strike on July 6 – just before schools break up for summer – over pay.
“Confronted with rising inflation and having had no general [salary] increase since 2014,” unions CGT-Cheminots, SUD-Rail and CFDT have organised the mobilisation after “bosses refused to receive [them]” for talks.
British Airways ground staff at Heathrow Airport have voted in favour of a strike amid calls for a 10% pay rise.
The strike – organised by the Unite and GMB unions – will take place this month if an agreement is not reached.
If the action does go ahead, it may result in disruption to flights heading for or arriving from France.
Last weekend (June 25-6), several European unions representing Ryanair staff – including the SNPNC in France – organised strike action, later claiming that up to 50% of flights were cancelled in affected airports.
However, Ryanair claimed that the disruption caused by the strike had been minimal.
The SNPNC is calling for cabin crew to be allowed to eat and drink during flights, and has said: “If there is no reaction from bosses and from governmental authorities, we will continue striking.
“The conflict will continue throughout the summer.”
The call to strike has no set end date, so employees could take action at any point over the summer.
2. EasyJet reduces Charles de Gaulle flight schedule
Low-cost airline EasyJet has cut its summer flight schedule down, affecting at least 15 routes departing from Charles de Gaulle.
This is partly because airports have asked airlines to limit their flights after deciding that they are expecting more passengers than they can cope with.
EasyJet has reduced its schedule by 10% for the next three months, The Guardian reports.
The affected Charles de Gaulle routes are: Belfast International, Bristol, Catania, Copenhagen, Krakow, Faro, Lisbon, Manchester, Marrakech, Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Pula, Split and Venice.
Apart from Marrakech and Pula, all of these destinations are served by more than one flight per day, so cancellations should not necessarily mean that passengers have to wait days to travel.
EasyJet flights will also be affected between:
- Gatwick and Basel Mulhouse, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Geneva, Lyon, Montpellier, Marseille, Nantes, Nice and Toulouse
- Birmingham and Nantes
- Bristol and Charles de Gaulle, Basel Mulhouse, Bordeaux, Geneva, Marseille, Nantes and Nice
- London Luton and Geneva, Lyon, Montpellier and Nice
3. Irish Ferries marks first anniversary of Dover-Calais route launch
This week, Irish Ferries celebrated one year of its Dover-Calais route, which was launched on June 29, 2021.
The company now has three ships running on the route: the Isle of Inishmore, the Isle of Innisfree and the Isle of Inisheer.
Nora Costello, Marketing Director at Irish Ferries, said: “With very positive feedback from passengers, we are proud to have become a serious operator in the English Channel ferry market as we reach our one-year anniversary on the route.
“The recent addition of a third ship on this route has allowed us to offer a departure from either Dover or Calais every 90 minutes or so.
“This will offer customers even greater choice along with the capacity, frequency and reliability for this essential connection between Britain and France.
“We look forward to welcoming passengers on board to experience our award-winning hospitality and service this summer and beyond.”
4. EU will not fund Bordeaux-Toulouse high speed rail project
The EU has not included France’s Grand projet ferroviaire du Sud-Ouest (GPSO) high-speed rail link between Bordeaux and Toulouse in its list of 135 projects which will receive funding.
The GPSO needs to source 20% of its budget – or €2.8billion – from the EU to be able to finance the project.
Green MEPs are opposed to the plan because of concerns that it will cause damage to ecosystems and biodiversity along the route.
Karima Delli, Green MEP and president of the European Parliament’s Transports Commission, tweeted: “This project is extremely costly, unpopular and presents few advantages. Let’s prioritise the modernisation of existing lines!”
Nous ne financerons pas le projet GPSO de lignes à grande vitesse Bordeaux-Toulouse/Bordeaux-Espagne. Ce projet est extrêmement coûteux, impopulaire et présente peu d'avantages. Privilégions la modernisation des lignes existantes !@PierreHurmic pic.twitter.com/FYpznTxmV1— Karima Delli (@KarimaDelli) June 30, 2022
However, the French government has said that the GPSO will still go ahead, and that a new funding application will be submitted in September.
Bordeaux’s Green mayor, Pierre Hurmic, who is strongly opposed to the plans, said: “The state must now realise that it must stop this huge project, which is pointless and will destroy biodiversity.”
The rail link will come at an estimated cost of €14.3billion, 40% of which is being provided by the state and 40% by local authorities, leaving 20% for the EU to cover.
The line would cover 222km, and enable passengers to travel from Paris to Bordeaux to Toulouse in just over three hours. Currently it takes at least four hours.
Work is due to start in 2024, for a planned launch in 2032.
5. Air Transat announces Montreal-Marseille flights
Air Transat has published its winter schedule, with flights from Montreal to Paris and Marseille and more direct links between France and the US.
The Montreal-Marseille route began this year on April 8, but had originally been set to end on October 26. Now, there will be up to two weekly flights until January 9, 2023.
Air Transat will be the only airline offering this route. It also operates flights between Montreal and Basel Mulhouse, Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, Nice, Paris and Toulouse.
Over the winter, it will fly up to twice a day between Paris and Montreal and once a week between Paris and Quebec.
6. Marseille puts on summer bus service for beach-goers
Marseille’s city hall has introduced a special beach bus service for people hoping for a day by the sea this summer.
People who travel to the Rond-Point du Prado métro stop will find a shuttle bus travelling every four minutes to the Plage du Prado two kilometres away. The bus will be labelled ‘Le bus des plages’.
This comes alongside the doubling of 83 bus services to La Corniche beach.
In this way, the city hopes to prevent car congestion and parking issues around the beaches, which are expected to see two million visitors this summer.
The operation will cost €6.3million.
7. 74% of people in France planning holidays this summer
After two years affected by Covid restrictions, people in France are more eager to set off on summer holidays this year than they were before the crisis, a new study has shown.
Insurance company Europ Assistance and research company Ipsos have found that 74% of people in France intend to go on holidays this summer, 5% more than in 2019.
However, some 23% of people surveyed have not yet decided where to go, and 55% had not yet reserved their tickets and accommodation.
The budget people expected to give over to their holidays is larger this year than in 2021, with an average expected spend of €1,806 (+11%). However, this amount is €400 less than in 2019, as 72% of respondents state that they are concerned about the impact of inflation on their finances.
Some 26% of people surveyed stated that they would not go on holiday this summer either because they cannot afford to or because they wish to save money.