The Daily Telegraph

Holidaymak­ers braced for travel delays as French air traffic controller­s strike over pay

- By Oliver Gill

‘Cancellati­ons and significan­t delays are to be expected across the country despite preventati­ve action’

BRITISH travellers are bracing for further chaos as French air traffic controller­s go on strike this weekend.

Half of flights to and from French airports are expected to be grounded tomorrow as staff walk out in a row over pay and working conditions.

Flights to the UK risk disruption as airlines are forced to divert around French airspace.

It raises the risk of similar chaotic scenes to the ones seen across Europe this summer. Hours-long queues, cancellati­ons and delays marred the reopening of the skies after Covid restrictio­ns were lifted as the aviation industry struggled with chronic staffing shortages. Airlines were forced to scrap thousands of flights to wrest control of the situation.

In some cases, this was at the behest of airports such as at Heathrow, which forced airlines to cap flight numbers to avoid being overwhelme­d.

French aviation regulator DGAC warned that “cancellati­ons and significan­t delays are to be expected” across the country tomorrow despite preventati­ve measures being implemente­d. The Syndicat National des Contrôleur­s du Trafic Aérien (SNCTA) union said action was necessary as its members grappled with real-terms pay cuts amid soaring inflation.

It added: “Between 2029 and 2035, one third of the [air traffic control] workforce is retiring. It is imperative that we anticipate and plan recruitmen­t.

“If not, the consequenc­es will be inevitable in terms of the public service, working conditions and flexibilit­y.” More industrial action by the union is planned for Sept 28 to Sept 30.

The French strikes come as restrictio­ns will be imposed across London airspace in the coming days ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’S funeral.

Some 16 flights were cancelled at Heathrow due to the transfer of the late Queen’s coffin yesterday.

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