10 Oct 2017

French Air Traffic Control Strike Causes Delays and Cancellations

In protest against Emmanuel Macron’s new labour reform policies, French Air Traffic Controllers walked out at 1700 British time on Monday, not to return until Wednesday morning. Other French unions are also taking strike action, which could affect public transport in France.

The move will affect hundreds of flights with several airlines, as many flights not directly involving French airports use French airspace. Ryanair have already cancelled hundreds of flights, affecting an estimated 40,000 travellers. Flights from Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh to France and Spain have been cancelled. The airline said: “Unfortunately, further flight delays and cancellations are likely and customers are asked to please monitor this notice which will be updated throughout the day. Ryanair sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused by these unjustified ATC disruptions which are entirely outside of our control.”

Easyjet, having also had to cancel many flights, said “As a large percentage of easyJet’s flights fly over France, this will have an impact on our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying over French airspace.”

“The strike is also expected to impact many public services in France, including public transport. We advise all passengers to allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport and consider alternative transport options where possible.”

British Airways also cancelled several flights, and said “Yet again this will unfortunately bring another wave of unnecessary disruption for some customers travelling in Europe.”

The airline has also offered to re-accommodate travellers whose Monday or Tuesday flights were cancelled, to rebook on a date up to and including 12th October.”

Yet another strike by French Air Traffic Controllers unions, the most recent of many in the past few years, has caused misery for tens of thousands of travellers. To make matters worse, affected passengers are not even entitled to compensation under EU rules, as the delays and cancellations are beyond the control of the airlines.

However, airlines still have a duty of care to their customers, who have some rights under Regulation EC261/2004 rules. The airline must take all reasonable measures to re-accommodate passengers on alternative flights, and if they cannot do this on their own flights within two days, they must try to do so on other airlines at their own expense. Passengers are also entitled to refreshments, meals and accommodation while waiting for delayed and cancelled flights, and have the right to two phone calls/faxes/telexes/emails.


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