BREAKING: Thursday's air strike in France called off, disruption still expected

Disruption is still expected at a number of airports. The union has also not rescinded its strike notice for three days in May

May’s strike would affect passengers taking a long weekend
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A last-minute agreement between France's civil aviation authority and a leading air traffic control union lifted its notice for a major strike planned for this Thursday (April 25). 

However, there are still reports that up to 75% of flights at Paris Orly, and 55% at Paris Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) may still be cancelled.

Marseille-Provence and Nice airports are expected to see up to 65% of flights affected, and at other airports 45% of flights will still face issues.

The SNCTA, the largest union for air traffic controllers, confirmed Wednesday morning on its website that "an agreement had been reached" between it and the Direction générale de l'aviation civile (DGAC).

Some smaller unions may still engage in strike action on April 25.

The DGAC has not yet commented on the news, nor confirmed how much disruption is still expected on Thursday. 

Strike action still slated for May

Air controllers have threatened a new period of strike action in May, over the Ascension weekend, that has not been lifted.

The SNCTA filed the additional notice yesterday evening, after negotiations between it and France’s civil aviation authority continued to stall. 

The notice covers days May 9 – 11, a Thursday to Saturday which includes the Ascension public holiday (May 9), a period where many people are set to faire le pont and take a long weekend off. 

The SNCTA said it was giving the aviation authority two weeks to ‘find a solution’ and that the disruptions to passengers during both strike periods lay squarely at the DGAC’s feet. 

Earlier in the week, the union also said they would consider strike action in June.

Read more: French MPs move to stop last-minute air traffic controller strikes

Breakdown in negotiations

Unions are in a furore over changes to negotiation points made by the civil aviation authority (direction générale de l'aviation civile, DGAC) without prior warning. 

“The agreements published [by the DGAC] are in no way acceptable to the SNCTA, which considers it to be a provocation if not an insult,” said the union.

The changes led to a near total breakdown in communication between the two over changes to the job role of air traffic controllers, which has been ongoing for 15 months. 

An overhaul of the role of air traffic controllers would see an increased workload, says the union, which they want to see compensated with increased pay, bringing it more in line with ‘European standards’ a source from the SNCTA told BFMTV. 

Unions also want a recruitment drive for the profession.

Read more: French air traffic controllers take too much time off and risk safety

However, a pay rise would cause ticket prices to increase as the costs trickle down to passengers, said Pascal de Izaguirre, CEO of airline Corsair. 

In 2023, the SNCTA and other unions said they would commit to an ‘Olympic Truce’, and not strike during the months of July - September 2024, as the Olympic and Paralympic Games took place in Paris.

Read more: Travel: How to be reimbursed if affected by strike action in France