Strike misery for flyers
Flights to and from south-east Spain hit by national strike in France
By Dave Jones TENS of thousands of airline passengers had flights cancelled this week due to a national strike in France over labour law reform which was supported by French air traffic control (ATC) operators.
The paralysis in French airspace affected routes to and from Alicante-Elche airport, Murcia-San Javier and Valencia.
Budget flyer Ryanair said it had been forced to cancel more than 220 flights from Monday at 18.00 into the early hours of Wednesday due to ‘these unjustified ATC disruptions which are entirely outside of our control’.
They told customers they would be ‘updated on their flight status via email and/or the mobile phone number provided at time of booking’.
A total of 12 of the cancelled flights listed on the airline’s website should have departed from Alicante-Elche, with five bound for the UK.
Four out of five flights cancelled from Murcia-San Javier were also bound for the UK or Ireland.
A total of 10 flights from the UK or Ireland to Alicante or Murcia were also cancelled.
Ryanair was the only airline which announced that it was cancelling flights en masse due to the strike.
Other budget flyers were more circumspect on the information they provided to the public and media on their websites.
EasyJet stated on Monday that as a large percentage of its planes fly over France, ‘this will have an impact on our flights’.
“Just like other airlines we are subject to French air traffic regulations; we therefore expect delays and cancellations on both days,” they noted.
They stated that they had taken the decision to ‘proactively cancel a number of flights, allowing customers to reorganise their journeys’.
Jet2.com merely stated on Monday that flights ‘operating to France or through French airspace may be subject to disruption’.
“We wish to assure customers that we will do our utmost to keep any disruption to a minimum,” they noted.
“Whilst some delays may be experienced, we will be working constantly to bring forward any delayed departures and get flights underway at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Many Costa Blanca residents and visitors were affected by the strike action.
Beverley Hurn in Orihuela Costa explained that her in-laws were originally booked with now-defunct airline Monarch for Wednesday.
She noted on Tuesday: “They rebooked with Ryanair but returning today instead of tomorrow, so would have lost a day of their holiday.”
However, their new flights on Tuesday from Murcia-San Javier to Luton were cancelled and the earliest flight they could find back to the UK was from Alicante to Gatwick on Friday.
UK resident Janet Lawrenson noted on Tuesday: “Our Ryanair flight due to depart Manchester at 06.30 today to Alicante was cancelled yesterday.
“We managed to book a Norwegian Airline flight at 19.30 this evening. We have missed a day in our beloved Oliva but at least we’re going.”
The main air traffic controllers’ unions in France downed tools as part of a national strike against the labour reform policies of the country’s new president, Emmanuel Macron.
More industrial action is expected in France in the future as Mr Macron seeks to push through the controversial legislation.
Paul and Gina Wilson were supposed to be on an Easyjet flight to Alicante on Tuesday from Luton but after being checked in and waiting in the departure lounge they found out their flight was cancelled.
Mr Wilson said he received a message on a mobile app saying this was due to pilots not being able to fly more hours, and then later a message about air traffic control.
A friend of the couple told Costa Blanca News: “As there were no other flights available till the weekend, they had to get a flight on Wednesday evening to Barcelona, landing at 21.05, and then a bus at 01.25 to Benidorm, and then another bus to Alicante airport to pick up their car at the airport.”
Unhappy Alicante-bound passengers at Luton airport on Tuesday