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France to cancel thousands of flights due to computer system upgrade

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
France to cancel thousands of flights due to computer system upgrade
Photo by THOMAS SAMSON / AFP

Thousands of flights will be cancelled while French air traffic control updates its 'antiquated' computer systems.

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French air traffic controllers are preparing for a major systems upgrade to the more modern 4-flight programme, which affects around 80 percent of the work done by air traffic controllers.

The system is set to be installed early in 2024 and while the work is ongoing around 16,500 flights will be cancelled in order to introduce some slack into the system for the changes - including over Valentine's Day.

Between January 9th and February 14th, airlines have been told to reduce by 20 percent the amount of flights taking off and landing in Paris' Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Le Bourget and Beauvais airports. 

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Which flights to cancel will be left up to airlines, who usually try to prioritise long-haul flights. 

French air traffic controllers handle around 3 million flights per year, of which many are 'overflights' - passing through French airspace as they travel across Europe. 

"This new-generation air traffic control system is part of an ambitious technological modernisation of our systems, which has become crucial. 4-Flight offers innovative functionalities for more efficient air traffic management", said Florian Guillermet, director of the Services de la Navigation aérienne (DNSA).

"France now has a new-generation technological base that will meet the new challenges facing air transport. 4-Flight integrates a new flight plan processing system and a new control environment: this means changing almost 80 percent of the French system.

"That's the scale of this operation, as it is generally more usual to change components one after the other."

At this stage, the DNSA says it does not anticipate that flights to or from regional French airports will need to be cancelled - 4-Flight has already been successfully installed in Reims and is set to be rolled out in Bordeaux and Brest airports later this month. 

Anyone whose January or February flight is affected will be contacted by their airline and offered rebooking on another available flight. 

READ ALSO Your rights in France for delayed or cancelled flights

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