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Airlines and Eurostar make cancellations amid France general strike

National action causes cancellation of flights and trains connecting the UK with Paris and beyond

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 15 February 2023 12:27 GMT
Trains trimmed: Eurostar has cancelled four trips between London and Paris because of industrial action on 16 February
Trains trimmed: Eurostar has cancelled four trips between London and Paris because of industrial action on 16 February (Simon Calder)

Passengers travelling to, from and over France until the end of the week face potential cancellations due to the latest national strike. The main date affected is Thursday 16 February, with Eurostar, easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways cancelling some services.

A wide range of transport workers will join the latest nationwide industrial action in protest against President Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

The action by air-traffic controllers begins at 6pm French time on 15 February and continues until 6am on Friday 17 February.

Dozens of airlines will be affected – in particular easyJet, which has many hundreds of flights using French airspace every day.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “Airlines have been requested by the French authorities to make cancellations to their flying programmes on Thursday 16 February.

“Any impacted customers will be notified in advance to help them rearrange their plans and offered the option to change their flight for free or receive a refund.

“As French rail services may also be affected, we recommend customers plan their journey to or from the airport in advance and allow extra time to travel.

“While this is outside of our control, we would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience they may experience as a result of the strike action.”

Ryanair is expected to cancel “a small number of flights”. The airline has repeated its demand that the European Commission should ensure overflights can continue unaffected.

The airline’s director of operations, Neal McMahon, said: “It is completely unacceptable that European passengers will once again face disruption tomorrow as result of yet another French ATC [air-traffic control] strike – the fifth strike already this year.

“Even passengers who are not flying to/from France are impacted because they overfly French airspace, all the while French laws unfairly protect French domestic flights.”

He called for action from the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen – and said she should step down if no action is taken.

British Airways has cancelled a round-trip from London Heathrow to Lyon, while an Iberia flight to Madrid and back – which would normally cross a large slice of western France – has also been grounded.

Anyone whose flight is cancelled because of the strike is entitled to be flown on the same day if any flights are available, or provided with a hotel and meals if they have to wait overnight.

Eurostar has cancelled a pair of trains between London St Pancras and Paris Nord on both the morning and evening of Thursday.

Passengers on the affected services are been offered full refunds or the option to travel on a different train.

Within France, the main operator, SNCF, is telling passengers with bookings on Thursday: “We invite you to postpone your journey free of charge to another date, or to cancel your journey and obtain a full refund.”

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