French Air Traffic Controllers Strike Leaving Thousands Stranded


Thousands of European travelers are stranded this week as French air traffic controllers strike over working conditions, and an increase in the pension age from 57 to 59.

The walk-out, which began on Wednesday at 5am was called by the SNCTA—France’s largest union—which is seeking to negotiate working conditions on behalf of its members.

According to Eurocontrol, the pan-European air traffic control agency, France’s aviation authority requested up to 40% of flights to and from French airports be cancelled. Flights to other European and international destinations routed through French airspace number around 4,000 each day, and, where possible, are being redirected to the east or west.

French minister for transport, Alain Vidalies says he regrets the union have chosen to instigate a strike, and that a meeting has been scheduled for April 13 to discuss specific working practices in the air traffic control sector.

Despite the meeting two more stoppages are planned—from April 16 to 18, and again, from April 29 to May 2.

French air traffic controllers caused similar delays in 2014 when they protested budget cuts, and in 2013, when they walked off the job in opposition to plans for a single European airspace.

The walk-out had originally been scheduled for 25 to 27 March but was postponed following the Germanwings crash in the French Alps which killed 150 people.


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Rebecca Adams

Rebecca Adams is a New Zealander living in Panama City. She has visited more than 35 countries around the world and is actively working to up that number.