French air traffic controllers' strike: UK flights could be affected by industrial action

Easyjet says it will have to cancel 25 per cent of its flights due to action by air traffic controllers

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The Independent Online

Thousands of passengers face disruptions to their flights as air traffic controllers begin industrial action today in what could be a six-day strike.

The action by French air traffic controllers has led to budget carriers Ryanair and easyJet axing more than 50 services today while British Airways has also cancelled three flights from Heathrow to the French cities of Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse.

UK airports say the strike could cause delays to flights traveling through French airspace, including those travelling to Spain.

None of the 20-plus services axed by Ryanair or easyJet are flights that connect with the UK, and easyJet, which had feared it would have to axe about 50 per cent of its French-connecting services, was told today by French air traffic control company DAGC that 25 per cent would have to be cancelled.

On Monday evening, the airline said some UK-originating flights might be affected, while Ryanair also warned passengers that the strike could affect flights overflying France, adding: "We expect further flight delays and cancellations.

Passengers are also being advised to avoid rebooking flights between the 24 June and 25 June because of the possibility of further cancellations within this period.

EasyJet said: "We are disappointed at this unnecessary strike action which has the potential to cause considerable disruption and cancellations for passengers and airlines across Europe.

"Despite the fact that this disruption is beyond easyJet's control we will do everything possible to minimise the inconvenience to our customers. We will proactively provide advice for our passengers through our website, text messages and flight tracker tool."

A spokesperson for BA said: "Due to industrial action by air traffic controllers in France we have been forced to cancel a small number of flights on Tuesday and are expecting knock-on delays to some other short-haul services.

"We will look to use larger aircraft where we can to help affected customers on cancelled flights so they can rebook free of charge to alternative flights.

"We would urge customers to keep checking our website during the week for the very latest information about their specific flights."

On Thursday evening, over 60 per cent of the 4,000 air traffic controllers voted in favour of the protest against government aviation cuts that will hit between 2015 and 2019. Staff fear the cuts will threaten “modernisation” and lead to a “forced low-cost” approach to their work, France24 reported.