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French airport strikes start week of travel woes

Dan MacGuill · 11 Jun 2013, 09:32

Published: 11 Jun 2013 09:32 GMT+02:00

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Airlines have been forced to cancel as many as half of flights coming into and out of French airports on Tuesday, as four days of severe nationwide travel disruption begin.

Flights have been cut at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, Orly, and Beauvais airports in Paris, as well as in Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Under the terms of the strike by air traffic control staff, France’s General Directorate of Civil Aviation has instructed airlines to cancel one out of every two flights.

As a result, low-cost outfits Ryanair and easyJet have cut 102 and 128 flights respectively, in and out of France, on Tuesday.

For its part, Air France claimed to have been able to protect its long-haul flights today, but said in a statement on the company website that it couldn’t rule out further “last-minute delays and cancellations.”

In Nice Cote d’Azur airport, 31 percent of flights have been cancelled on Tuesday, 30 percent in Marseille, and 41 percent in Lyon.

A total of 16 flights have been pulled at Lille airport in northern France. Potential travelers are encouraged to check with their airline whether their flight is still set to take place.

Aviation workers are protesting against European Commission plans to reform air travel throughout Europe, in a way that French unions fear will lead to the liberalization and a "forced low-cost" ethos in air traffic.

Anyone hoping to avoid the skies above France and turn to the country's rail network instead, however, might find matters equally complicated later in the week.

A number of unions serving the national SNCF company have announced a strike by their workers, beginning at 7pm French time on Wednesday, and ending at 8am French time on Friday.

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Details on the extent of disruption to train journeys are scarce at this time, but French Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier on Tuesday told RTL radio that travelers should expect "something in the order of one out of every two TGV trains."

Railworkers are protesting against plans by the Socialist government of French President François Hollande to reform the country's rail system in a way which unions fear will break it up into three separate entities.

In addition to cancelled flights and disruption to rail traffic, French daily Le Parisien on Tuesday also mooted the possibility of strikes by French postal and energy workers in the near future.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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