French riot police were called in to break up scuffles at Paris Orly airport as angry travellers were left stranded by a strike by Air Algerie cabin crew.
Thousands were left sleeping overnight at Orly, Marseille and Nice airports as the state-run Algerian carrier cancelled dozens of flights in the face of a walk-out by crew demanding a 106% pay rise.
The strike coincided with a time when many French residents of north African origin make annual trips to see relatives in Algeria.
Many passengers at Orly screamed “Liars! Thieves!” when an airline official explained Air Algerie was doing its best to charter aircraft to get its passengers to destinations in the former French colony, the BBC reported.
They had ignored Air Algerie's request that passengers not show up at airports because of the strike, and reacted angrily when airline representatives appeared, guarded by riot police.
French transport minister Thierry Mariani yesterday summoned representatives of the airline, the Algerian embassy and airport officials to try to find ways of getting travellers to their destinations.
Algerian state radio quoted the airline's chief Mohamed Salah Boultif as saying Air Algerie was in no position to grant the pay rise. But he pledged a 20% pay increase for all airline employees.
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