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Passengers Prepare for Next Wave of French Strikes
As labor strikes enter their fifth day, airlines have continued to cancel flights from, to and through French airspace. The strikes also continue to effect other modes of transportation, with an estimated traffic line stretching over 300 miles long getting in to Paris according to CNBC.
London-based British Airways cancelled four flights to France on Monday evening, with Air France announcing the cancellation of 25% of its domestic flights and 10% of its medium-haul flights scheduled for December 10. While the country faces challenges from a number of public sector strikes, the latest air traffic controller strike scheduled for December 10 follows a nearly five-day strike that took place last week and ended on Sunday morning.
In a press release last week, Airlines for Europe, a trade group supported by European airlines, stated “Repeated and disproportionate industrial action by French ATC unions is seriously impacting the travel plans of thousands of passengers during Easter. It is unacceptable that airlines and their customers can be repeatedly punished by these unjustified strikes. We call on the European Commission to act immediately to defend consumers.”
Just last year, the trade group also noted that strikes have caused over 200 days of disruption since 2010 alone. This is immensely impactful, as over 95 percent of employees in France are covered by collective bargaining agreements, according to global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.
While most major delays and cancellations are covered under eu261, a regulation in Europe that holds airlines financially accountable for excess delays, labor strikes initiated by airport employees or air traffic control are considered extraordinary circumstances that do not result in reimbursement. However, any flights that are not directly caused by the strike would still be eligible.
Passengers in other recent flight delays, such as Air India’s 49-hour delay from London to Mumbai caused by mechanical problems, have had success utilizing services like AirHelp to determine if flights are eligible for compensation under the European regulation.
French President Emmanuel Macron faces an uphill battle as he continues to meet with other leaders in conducting pension reform. With over 40 pension schemes scattered across numerous public unions, Macron’s leadership team has begun working to consolidate them in an effort to reduce the nation’s financial burden. In addition to air traffic controllers, other government employees including state rail company SNCF and Paris public transport group RATP have engaged in similar strikes and slowed down transportation networks.
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