French strike adds to European airlines' woes

European travellers faced more misery on Tuesday as French air traffic controllers launched a five-day strike and British and German airlines sought to head off threats of industrial action.

A quarter of flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle, a major international hub, were cancelled, along with around half out of Paris Orly, which mainly serves domestic routes and the French overseas territories.

Queues were building up at Orly, but most passengers were resigned to their fate as 17 flights flashed up "cancelled" on information screens. Air France has vowed to maintain most long-haul services during the strike.

The operators' association said some provincial airports, such as Pau, Biarritz, Grenoble, La Rochelle and Chambery, would close during the strike.

Four French unions have called the strike in order to protest against the planned merger of the Belgian, Dutch, French, German, Luxembourg and Swiss air traffic control networks.

French controllers fear the merger will end their protected role as French state employees, but the French aviation authority DGAC has insisted that its status will not be changed.

Beyond France, more widespread chaos was prevented, or at least postponed, late Monday, when German flag-carrier Lufthansa persuaded pilots to return to negotiations after only one day of a planned four-day stoppage.

Meanwhile, British Airways is facing the threat of a crippling protest after cabin crew voted by more than 80 percent in favour of new strike action, the fruit of a long-running and bitter dispute over working conditions.

British Airways, which has forecast a record loss in its current financial year, says it wants to review the working conditions of its cabin crew, who are paid more than their counterparts at other airlines.

The cabin crews' union, Unite, is angry at plans to use fewer crew on flights, freeze pay and apply different working conditions to new staff.

A total of 9,271 cabin crew voted, with 80.7 percent in favour of strike action, the union said. This allows for a strike within 28 days, but media reported that the busy two-week Easter holiday period has been ruled out.

"Our members are not mindless militants but men and women committed to their company and their profession, so it is right that they want to be consulted on changes to their jobs," said Unite assistant general secretary Len McCluskey.

"We will not allow Unite to ruin this company," the airline warned, in a statement. "Should a strike take place, we will do everything we can to protect our customers' travel plans as far as possible."

Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline, said Tuesday it hoped to get services running normally by the end of the week as talks with unions got underway.

The firm agreed late on Monday to hold negotiations with the pilots' union Cockpit, ending a strike that was expected to last four days and cost the firm up to 100 million euros (136 million dollars).

"It will take some time to get the whole network functioning again," airline spokesman Klaus Walther told television station ZDF. "Our goal is to have the network running at 100 percent by Friday at the latest."

Walther said he was "optimistic" that talks would result in an agreement by March 8, the date unions have set as their next possible strike action, and Cockpit also welcomed the restarting of talks.

The union is pressing for a 6.4-percent pay raise but its main demand is that pilots would not lose their jobs when Lufthansa begins to operate more flights using cheaper foreign affiliates.

Lufthansa said it had flown 960 flights on Monday, just under half the scheduled number, but the predicted chaos at its Frankfurt hub did not materialise, as most passengers were forewarned and stayed away.

bur-dc/ss

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering