France is geared for travel misery

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The Independent Online
HOLIDAYMAKERS bound for Europe face delays this weekend as French air-traffic controllers stage a go-slow.

But the forecast misery for British ferry travellers eased last night after Spanish fishermen, engaged in a 'tuna war' with France, lifted their port blockade. Services from the United Kingdom to Spain are now expected to operate normally.

The 250,000 Britons expected to take their cars across the Channel on one of the busiest weekends at home and on the Continent are being warned to expect traffic jams. 'It could be pretty slow going for UK drivers in France as this is the weekend all the French factory workers go on holiday,' an AA spokeswoman said. Roadworks on the A2, M2 and M20 in Kent will also cause problems.

The French air-traffic controllers' strike is expected to hit holidaymakers flying to Spain hardest. Difficulties are expected to be confined to the Marseilles control centre and industrial action is not expected to be as damaging as last week's action by controllers, which caused delays to outgoing UK holiday flights.

'We're not expecting too many difficulties this week but there might be some hold-ups,' said a spokeswoman at Gatwick, Britain's busiest holiday airport. More than 276,000 people will be passing through Gatwick this weekend, making it one of the peak weekends at the airport this year.

The ports blockade by Spanish fishermen had disrupted ferry services from Plymouth to Santander in Spain and from Portsmouth to the Spanish port of Bilbao. Now the P&O Saturday night Portsmouth-Bilbao sailing will go ahead as planned, instead of having to dock at Cherbourg.

Problems are also expected at Dublin airport today because of a threatened walk-out by craftsmen at Aer Lingus, in support of 1,300 workers being laid off by a subsidiary company, Team.

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