French air strike threat eased

Authorities order 20% cut in flights to and from Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse airports, and certain services out of Paris

AT LAST, there is some good news for travellers in France. The air traffic controllers’ strike, set to run for six days from tomorrow, will not cause as much chaos as feared after the larger of the two unions involved lifted its walkout notice.

Negotiations with the government over the weekend prompted the SNCTA to call off its planned six-day strike.

Transport secretary Frédéric Cuvillier described talks as “constructive” and said that a roundtable discussion on the future of air traffic control in Europe will take place in early July.

Disruption is still expected however, with members of the second union that had threatened action, UNSA-ICNA, still set to walk out.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today instructed airlines to reduce scheduled flights by 20% to and from Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse, as well as flights to the South of France, the Iberian peninsula and North Africa out of Paris area airports.

Air France said today that it expected to operate all its long-haul flights and 90% of its short- and medium-haul services.

The two French air traffic controllers’ unions had called a strike last week, in protest at a new financing plan for air navigation in France. The plan is due to be submitted to Brussels on June 30.

News that one of the unions had called off its strike action means that “flights will be operated at 75% on average,” the ministry said last night in a statement.

“Most of the disturbances should affect airports in the south of France, and flights to southern Europe and North Africa,” it added.

Last night, airlines were unable to say how many flights would be affected.

Meanwhile, traffic has returned to near-normal levels on France’s major rail arteries as support for the longest strike in the country since 2010 peters out. Union members still involved in the dispute were due to vote on whether to continue their action this morning.

MPs are due to vote on the rail reform bill that has been at the centre of the dispute tomorrow.

Photo: Sean MacEntee