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UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September
Bystanders look at a board of cancelled flights on September 16, 2022, at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport amid a strike of air traffic controllers. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Direct London to Bordeaux rail service ‘to open in five years’

New direct high-speed rail services connecting London and major tourist resorts in France could be up and running in five years after all, the chairman of Eurotunnel’s parent company has suggested.

Direct London to Bordeaux rail service 'to open in five years'

Jacques Gounon, the boss of Getlink, which operates the Eurotunnel infrastructure and the Eurotunnel shuttle service, said he hoped a direct Eurostar passenger service between London and Bordeaux would begin running through the tunnel within five years, and said there were long-term plans to add a new line between the English capital and the French Riviera, amid ongoing questions over the future viability of private jets in a climate crisis.

“We’re working on a London-Bordeaux route,” Gounon told Europe 1’s La France Bouge programme, adding: “There is a market in the long term, the more we talk about decarbonisation and the end of private jets, which is London to Côte d’Azur because it remains a highly attractive place for the British.”

The timing of any future service remains unknown, Gounon admitted. “In the field of railways and Franco-British diplomatic relations, the slightest progress means a bit of technique, a lot of conviction.” 

And, confusingly, Gounon’s comments on Monday ran contrary to the previously reported future plans of Eurostar.

A London-Bordeaux route has been in the pipeline for some time. A feasibility study on the adaptations required for making Bordeaux Saint Jean station ready for international passengers was launched in 2018; while merger plans unveiled earlier this year between Eurostar and Thalys indicated that the plans were moving apace.

Earlier this month, Eurostar announced Gwendoline Cazanave would take over as CEO from Jacques Damas. It also announced plans to focus on core routes: London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

At the end of August, it announced it would stop its London to Disneyland Paris routes in the summer of 2023 due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. The company had said it had “taken the decision to no longer operate the direct London-Marne-la-Vallée route in the summer of 2023,” but no decision was made for the following year. 

“We will review our options for 2024 in the course of next year,” the train operator said.

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