French Air Traffic Controllers Plan Strike During Pre-Holiday Rush

Dec 13, 2018

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Air traffic controllers across France have announced plans to strike for several days leading up to the peak holiday travel rush.

Staffers will walk off the job beginning at 8pm local time on Thursday until 7am on Saturday. Widespread disruptions to flights are expected on Friday. French ATC handles more flights than any other European country. Its key location makes it a crossroads for flights to and from northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

It’s not yet clear if flights departing France or into/through French airspace will have to be canceled, but the aviation regulator for the European Union, Eurocontrol, said it would take mitigating actions to limit the effect of the demonstrations. “Minimum service will be provided with precautionary measures,” Eurocontrol, said to The Independent.

Nice and Toulouse are expected to be badly affected by flight disruptions. The Toulouse Airport (TLS) encouraged travelers to verify their flights were still scheduled for departure. “Disturbances to be expected on the flight schedule,” the airport said in an alert to passengers. “We invite you to contact your airline to know the status of your flight before traveling to the airport.”

The union representing French ATC workers, USAC-CGT, called for the strike as part of sweeping national labor demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as other working conditions, such as “continual downsizing for more than 10 years.” ATC employees in France staged a strike back in May that appeared to cause more severe disruptions.

Fortunately, it seems this round of demonstrations will wrap up before the apex of Christmas and New Year’s travel hits, with the busiest travel day for the season predicted to be Friday, Dec. 21 (at least in the US). So hopefully most holiday flyers through Europe will not see their travel plans snarled by the strike.

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