Dozens of flights cancelled as five-day French air traffic control strike gets underway

Rebecca Smith
Ryanair called on the French government and European Commission to take action
Ryanair called on the French government and European Commission to take action (Source: Getty)

Thousands of passengers are being disrupted as a five-day strike by French air traffic controllers (ATC) strike started today, with airlines have been forced to cut a raft of flights.

Airlines four Europe (A4E), where Air France, EasyJet, Lufthansa and Ryanair are all members, said airlines have been asked to reduce their flight offerings in France by a quarter, with more than a 1,000 flights expected to be cancelled over the week.

The industrial action is being taken by staff at control centres in Brest and Bordeaux, but is affecting a range of airlines that use the airspace, with the French Civil Aviation Authority requesting airlines reduce their schedules across west and south west France. The action is set to run until Friday 10 March.

Read more: Airlines warn of disruption next week from air traffic control strike

Ryanair, which had to cancel 45 flights today, including two London Stansted ones, has called on the French government and European Commission to take "immediate action" to prevent the skies over Europe being closed.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said: "All affected customers have been contacted and informed of their options and we advise all customers travelling on Monday to check the status of their flight on the website before leaving for their airport.

We call on the French Government and European Commission to take immediate action to prevent thousands of European consumers from having their travel plans disrupted by a tiny group of ATC unions going on strike.

They cannot stand idly by and allow another summer of disruption and travel misery for European consumers to take place.

EasyJet meanwhile, is cancelling 38 flights - four of which are UK touching and two London Gatwick flights, while other flights in the capital are facing delays.

“EasyJet is disappointed at this unnecessary strike action causing further disruption for passengers and airlines across Europe. As a member of Airlines for Europe (A4E), we are working with other airlines to call on governments and the EU to develop an action plan to minimise the impact of ATC strikes on passengers," a spokesperson said.

The airline advised any customers to check their flight status on its Flight Tracker page or via the disruption portal on the mobile app, as it expects an influx of calls to its call centre.

Read more: British Airways cabin crew start fresh week-long walkout over "poverty pay"

“Although this is outside of our control we would like to apologise to all our customers for any inconvenience and would like to assure our passengers that we are doing all possible to minimise any disruption as a result of the industrial action," they added.

British Airways is also dealing with a week-long walkout by its own cabin crew over a pay dispute, which started on Friday. BA said the action had led to it merging some Heathrow flights.

Elsewhere, Finnair has said the strikes will have "a significant impact" on its operations, cancelling five flights yesterday and 10 today.

Customers whose flights won’t be operated due to the strike can either seek a refund for the ticket price, or change their travel date until March 20 without extra charges, Finnair said.

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