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The Airlines for Europe lobby group and Ryanair have led condemnation of French air traffic controllers for two days of strikes which triggered flight cancellations and delays ahead of the Easter holidays.
The French Civil Aviation Authority has mandated the cancellation of a number of flights for all airlines using French airspace due to the action which started yesterday.
“Unfortunately in addition to cancelling some flights to and from France, other short-haul flights are also likely to experience delays throughout the two days, given how many flights would normally use French airspace,” British Airways said.
“We will be using larger aircraft, where possible, to help affected customers and are doing all we can to reduce the levels of disruption. We are continuously reviewing the situation. A revised schedule for Monday has been published.”
An easyJet spokesman confirmed that 82 flights were cancelled on Sunday, including 32 due to take off from UK airports.
EasyJet said: “Like all airlines, our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying in French airspace, could be affected.
We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact of the strike on our customers, and have taken the decision to proactively cancel a number of flights, allowing customers to reorganise their journeys.”
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Due to yet another French air traffic controllers’ strike – the 41st such strike since 2009 – we regret we were forced to cancel a number of flights on Sunday, with further flights cancelled on Monday, and delays likely.
“We sincerely apologise to all those affected by the unwarranted actions of these French ATC workers who continue to hold European consumers to ransom and we call on the French government and EU Commission to take action to prevent any further disruptions.
“It’s grossly unfair that thousands of ordinary European consumers have their travel and holiday plans disrupted by the actions of a selfish few.
“We also encourage any affected customers to sign our online petition, Keep Europe’s Skies Open.”
Airlines for Europe estimated that more than 10,000 flights operated by its members were affected by 28 days of air traffic control strikes in Europe last year.
Managing director, Thomas Reynaert, said: “The negative impact of ATC strikes on European aviation is a key issue for our airlines and their customers.
“The European Commission must stand up for consumers and promote their rights. We urge all parties involved to develop and agree on an action plan and A4E will take the lead, seeking urgent working sessions with all stakeholders.
“We just can’t just spoil the Easter holiday break of European travellers.”
Air traffic controllers are striking in protest against staff cuts, which union UNSA said are unrealistic due to the operational needs of control centres.
Tjitze Noordehaven, chief operating officer at EUclaim, warned that the situation could get even worse for British holidaymakers if its flight delay modelling data is correct.
“If the French unions follow their strike patterns of 2014, we are likely to see further action in May and June, spoiling summer holidays,” he said.
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