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French air traffic control strike to disrupt flights

Control tower at Charles de Gaulle airport, near Paris
Control tower at Charles de Gaulle airport, near Paris AFP PHOTO/Pierre Verdy

The French civil aviation authority on Monday urged airlines to reduce flights ahead of a strike by air traffic controllers set to begin on Tuesday.


The six-day strike, called by the third biggest trade union among air traffic controllers, is due to start on Tuesday.

The civil aviation agency said three-quarters of flights would be operational on average. "Flights to southern France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria leaving from Paris" would be slightly less affected, with services reduced by 20 percent.

It asked airlines to slash flights by 20 percent in airports in southern France to ease the pressure.

The strike, in the midst of the peak tourist season in the country which attracts more foreign visitors than any other nation in the world, follows a rail protest that affected services to foreign countries as well as domestically, and is still continuing in some areas.

Two air controllers' unions, SNCTA and Unsa-ICNA, had both arranged to strike for six days from Tuesday, warning of "heavy disruption", but the SNCTA later called off its action.

The strike comes ahead of a June 30 deadline for France to present its budget plans for the sector over the next five years to Brussels.

The strikers are protesting against planned cuts between 2015 and 2019 that they say will threaten the "necessary performance and modernisation needed to ensure an efficient air navigation service in France."

The cuts form part of a European Commission plan, called Single Sky Europe, to reduce air navigation costs by organising airspace into functional blocks, according to traffic flows rather than national borders.

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