Mass flight disruption at French airports today April 25

Around 3,000 flights are set to be affected despite strike action being called off. A three-day strike notice for May remains in place

Around 300 Ryanair flights have been cancelled. The inset photos shows how many flights are cancelled at major French airports.
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Up to three-quarters of flights have been cancelled at major French airports today (April 25), despite a strike by air traffic controllers being called off at the last moment yesterday

Around 2,000 flights are expected to be cancelled throughout the course of today, and another 1,000 will face delays. 

At Paris Orly, 75% of flights are affected, and 55% at Paris Charles de Gaulle. 

Other airports seriously affected include Marseille-Provence and Nice (65%) with most others seeing between 40% and 45% of flights cancelled. 

It is the biggest cancellation of flights over a single day in over 20 years at French airports, said president of the Airports of Paris (ADP) group Augustin de Romanet. 

Flight cancellations were imposed by the French civil aviation authority (Direction générale de l'aviation, DGAC) after it became aware of the historic number of people set to strike at the beginning of the week. 

A recent law change means air traffic controllers must give at least 48 hours notice before strike action to help authorities minimise disruption (although this information does not need to be made available to the wider public). 

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

The u-turn by unions on Wednesday came too late to overturn the cancellations. 

A strike notice for May 9 – 11, which includes the Ascension public holiday, remains in place. There has also been a threat of more controller strikes in June. 

An ‘Olympic Truce’ between July and September is in place, however, with unions committing in 2023 to not take any action over this period.

Hundreds of Ryanair flights cancelled 

Low-cost airline Ryanair has had to cancel 300 flights, with fellow low-cost competitor Transavia cancelling almost 200. 

Air traffic controller strikes can affect not only flights landing or taking off from French airports, but also those flying over French airspace. 

Flights leaving from the UK and Ireland are particularly affected as many journeys to other destinations in Europe fly over France. 

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

If you have been affected, you should contact your airline for compensation - you need to do this within seven days of the flight being cancelled. 

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

Negotiations continue

Negotiations between the DGAC and air traffic control unions have been ongoing for over 15 months over a change to the job role for workers. 

Unions claim the role will require more work, and should be compensated with a pay rise alongside a recruitment drive to attract more people to the profession.

A breakdown in negotiations came earlier in April, when the DGAC published a version of the agreements including changes not accepted by the unions.

The new agreements made yesterday – but not yet made public – were called a ‘win win’ by France’s transport minister Patrice Vergriete, who said they would result in “greater safety and fewer delays.” 

There will be no additional cost to the taxpayer for the agreements, as the DGAC is funded by airline fees to fly in and out of French airports. However, an increase in basing fees may be pushed onto passengers in the form of higher ticket prices.