Misery for travellers as air traffic strike bites: Delays of up to four hours predicted by tomorrow as French controllers' action disrupts busy weekend

SERIOUS delays were building up at Britain's airports last night as the French air traffic controllers' strike began to take effect. The disruption is likely to get worse over the weekend with waits of up to four hours predicted by tomorrow evening.

Fears that the action would instantly cause long delays for passengers flying to European holiday destinations proved unfounded yesterday with many early flights leaving on time or only slightly late.

While early morning flights for those travelling to Spain's Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands - Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza - got off on time yesterday, later in the day delays of up to two hours were building up at Britain's main airports.

Britannia Airways, the country's biggest charter airline company, reported delays of up to two hours later yesterday but predicted waits of up to four hours by Sunday night. Air 2000 afternoon flights to Minorca and Naples were delayed by up to an hour and several Monarch Airline flights to and from Minorca and from Majorca were also delayed by up to an hour and 20 minutes. British Airways reported that four of its flights - to Montpelier, Nice, Lyons and Marseilles - had been delayed for up to 20 minutes.

Last night, flights from Manchester airport were being delayed by up to three hours and entertainers were being employed to amuse the children.

Further disruption has been caused by a baggage handlers' strike at Naples, with several flights having to divert to Rome.

This weekend is the busiest for package holiday flight departures so far this year. With school holidays starting, up to 1 million British holidaymakers will head for the sun in the United States, the Caribbean and Spain and its islands. Passengers are being advised to check with airlines or tour operators about the effect of the action on flights and to arrive at the airport on time for their departures.

Yesterday British aircraft were being rerouted to the west of Aix-en-Provence, where the French air traffic controllers are staging a three-day strike. They will fly over the Bay of Biscay and part of the Atlantic before returning to Spain. The detour means slightly longer flight times and more expense for the airlines. A Gatwick spokeswoman said that three out of four of its flights to the Balearics were being rerouted.

The controllers are striking until Sunday to back their demand for 26 new jobs, shorter hours, higher pay and retirement from the age of 55. The control centre handles flights to and from south-eastern France, Italy and Spain's Costa Brava and the Balearic islands.

The action has cut the number of flights over the region by 50 per cent and reduced the number of aircraft landing at Nice, Marseilles, Perpignon and Lyons. Gatwick and Heathrow airports are respectively expecting 260,000 and 520,000 people to fly out this weekend.

Richard Hedges, Britannia's communications manager, said yesterday that return flights were picking up delays of up to two hours. 'We are looking at delays of three or four hours or so by the end of the weekend.'

Captain Mike Poole, operations director of Monarch Airlines, said it was too early to assess the effect of the dispute because most of Monarch's flights would be leaving last night and today. 'What state we will be in on Sunday night is anybody's guess,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker