Strikes disrupt French flights and rail transport
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A French aviation strike entered a second day Wednesday with officials predicting delays and up to 75% of flights cancelled. Unrelated railway strikes are set to begin at 7pm on Thursday, compounding the headaches for would-be travellers.
French air-traffic controllers prolonged a strike for a second day on Wednesday to protest against plans to reform European airspace while French rail workers will launch their own strike on Thursday in a move that threatens to cause additional headaches for would-be travellers.
Nearly half of all flights in and out of Paris were cancelled on Tuesday as unions protested against a plan to “unify” control of the European skies. The project is meant to boost air-traffic capacity and reduce costs by eliminating national boundaries.
However, workers fear the initiative will be used as an excuse to privatise part of the sector and lead to lay-offs.
Seventy-five percent of cancellations and delays were anticipated in the busy Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports on Wednesday, but officials said carriers would return to normal activity on Thursday.
A spokesman for Paris’s ADP airport authority said Wednesday that travellers should seek information from their respective airlines before heading to airports.
EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas urged Brussels on Tuesday to speed up implementation of the plan, which has been 15 years in the making. But despite Kallas's call for expediency, transport ministers in France and Germany asked for new delays in the centralisation programme.
From planes to trains
The troubles for for travellers will not end on Wednesday, with a massive strike expected to bring much of France’s national railroad network to a standstill on Thursday as train workers protest against the government's recently proposed reforms for the rail system.
More than half of the country’s high-speed TGV and inter-city trains will not run on Thursday, according to the SNCF national train company. Commuter lines will also be hit hard.
Only one-third of trains connecting France and Italy, and just half linking France and Switzerland will work during the strike.
However, the Paris-London Eurostar trains, as well as rail service to and from Germany, will run on normal schedules.
Rail traffic is expected to return to normal on Friday and over the weekend.