European flights were largely disrupted on Friday as a strike by French air traffic controllers forced airlines to cancel half of those due to arrive or depart from Paris airports and others due to fly over France.
Strikes and staff shortages in recent months have forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, dashing hopes of a summer rebound from widespread COVID-19 lockdowns, with disruptions continuing until fall. “It’s a bit stressful, we’ll have to find a solution fairly quickly because we’re expected in another hotel in another place,” Canadian traveler Cedric Jutra told Reuters.
France’s air traffic control union SNCTA said in a statement that its members’ walkout was due to the effects of inflation and its demand for more staff. “It is inexplicable that thousands of European citizens/visitors are seeing their travel plans unfairly disrupted by yet another French ATC (air traffic control) strike,” Ryanair said.
The Irish airline said the travel plans of 80,000 passengers were affected when it canceled 420 flights, mostly intended to fly over France. Air France had indicated on Wednesday that it would only operate 45% of its short and medium-haul flights and 90% of its long-haul flights.
“Pretty difficult” “I realized this morning when I woke up that the flight had been cancelled… I managed to rebook but it’s not good because it’s the start of the day and it’s is quite difficult,” said Javier Vianuevua, a Spanish passenger on a flight to Barcelona.
The aeronautical authority DGAC, which had asked airlines to halve their flight times, said some local airports were temporarily closed, including Montpellier and Rennes, adding that there were “significant delays” at airports from the country. “Everything is very calm, because the passengers had been warned in advance and did not go to the airports,” a spokesman for Groupe ADP, operator of Paris airports, told Reuters, adding that the airlines had tended to cut short and medium serves.
Low-cost carrier EasyJet said it canceled 76 flights due to the strike. British Airways said it has made a small number of changes to its short-haul schedule and is offering rebooking and refund options for customers whose flights have been cancelled.
Major airports in neighboring countries have also felt the impact, with Spanish airport operator AENA saying it was forced to cancel 65 flights.
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