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PARIS

Paris suspends electric bus fleet after fires

Dozens of electric buses will be taken off the streets of Paris temporarily "as a precaution" after two of the vehicles caught fire, public transport operator RATP said on Friday.

Paris suspends electric bus fleet after fires
The Paris electric bus fleet. Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

Following a second blaze on Friday morning, in which no one was hurt, “RATP has taken the decision to suspend use of 149 electric buses” of manufacturer Bollore’s Bluebus 5SE model, the state-owned company said.

The number 71 bus that caught fire in southeast Paris early on Friday released thick clouds of black smoke and a strong smell of burning plastic, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

“The bus driver immediately evacuated all the passengers. Nobody was hurt,” RATP said, while the city fire service said the blaze was put out by around 30 firefighters.

A first bus caught fire on the upscale Boulevard Saint-Germain in central Paris on April 4th, destroying the vehicle but again causing no injuries.

Bluebus is part of the sprawling empire of French billionaire Vincent Bollore, whose interests range from transport and logistics to media, generating around €24 billion per year in revenue with 80,000 employees.

Bollore’s 12-metre electric buses are a familiar sight on the streets of the French capital, emblazoned with the words “100 percent electric vehicle”.

On its website, the company says the buses are “fitted with a new generation of batteries… with high energy density and optimal safety” spread around the roof and rear of the vehicle.

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TRAVEL

‘IT problems’ blamed for cancellation of flights from French airports

The French holiday weekend of Ascension has been hit by travel problems after Easyjet cancelled dozens of flights.

'IT problems' blamed for cancellation of flights from French airports

Easyjet announced on Thursday that it would have to cancel several dozen flights, many of which were set to depart from French airports like Paris Charles de Gaulle, Lyon, Toulouse and Nice.

The British budget airline tweeted an apology to the customers impacted, explaining that ‘IT system issues’ were to blame. 

In total, 200 flights across Europe were affected, confirmed the British newspaper The Independent.

Several customers expressed frustration at the hours-long wait times, many taking to Twitter to vent, like this user below:

So what happened?

Easyjet has not been very specific about the issue aside from explaining that the root of the problem was a computer system failure. They announced quickly that they were working to restore their systems and that in the meantime customers should continue to check Flight Tracker in order to verify the status of their flight prior to leaving for the airport.

While flights were set to resume on Friday, Thursday’s cancellations have had a domino effect, bringing about further delays and cancellations for flights originally scheduled for Friday. 

If you have flights booked, it is best, as stated above, to keep an eye on Flight Tracker in order to avoid potentially long wait-times at the airport.

Will passengers be compensated?

While Easyjet initially explained the IT problem as “beyond [their] control” and an “exceptional circumstance,” the company eventually retracted these statements and released a new statement saying that “Customers can request compensation in accordance with the regulations.” Here is the link to their website to find out more.

If you plan to request a refund, be advised that under European regulation for air passenger rights, travellers should be entitled to compensation between €260 to €410 per person depending on the duration of the flight, with the latter representing flight distances of over 1,500 km. Read more here.

Since Brexit, passengers departing from the UK may no longer be covered by the European compensation rules.

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