French air traffic control strikes: which flights are being impacted?

French air traffic control strikes: which flights are being impacted?

French air traffic controllers have begun a 24-hour strike which will run from 6am today, Friday September 16, until 6am tomorrow, Saturday September 17. Over 80,000 passengers on Ryanair alone will be impacted, as will many others who are due to fly over French airspace to the likes of Spain and Italy. Airlines have already started to cancel flights and there are delays expected.

Main photo: Ryanair is among the airlines with grounded flights due to the strike in France (Getty Images)

Which flights are being cancelled?

Any flights that fly into or across France are being impacted. This includes departures from the UK that fly not just to France but also over French airspace — the strike will impact flights to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland. RyanaireasyJet and British Airways are among the airlines that have cancelled flights — 420 in the case of Ryanair. Air France is only running 45 per cent of its short and medium-haul flights, along with 90 per cent of long-haul routes. Jet2 is warning that flights through French airspace may be delayed, but has not yet announced cancellations.

How long will the strike run for?

The strike by French air-traffic controllers takes place from 6am on Friday September 16 until 6am on Saturday September 17. Knock-on effects are likely to last through the weekend. The action was first announced by the union on September 6.

Why are they striking?

The SNCTRA air traffic control union is striking in a row over wages, saying that they are not keeping pace with record rates of inflation. According to the country’s civil aviation body, French air traffic controllers earn an average salary of around €60,000. The union also states that with a third of the air traffic control workforce set to retire between 2029 and 2035, and training taking five years, funding for new recruitment is needed.

EasyJet has said it will assist travellers affected by the French air traffic controllers' strike
EasyJet has said it will assist travellers affected by the strike (Alamy)

What happens if my flight is cancelled?

Regulations on what compensation passengers can expect if their flights are delayed or cancelled may not kick in here, as air traffic control strikes are an example of “extraordinary circumstances” that are beyond the airline’s control. That said, some airlines look likely to assist — easyJet, for example, has said customers on cancelled flights will have the choice of changing their flight for free, receiving a voucher or getting a refund.

Extraordinary circumstances aside, all flights departing from the UK, flights with a UK destination operated by a UK or EU airline, and UK airline-operated flights with an EU destination are covered by UK law regarding refunds and compensation when it comes to delays and cancellations. The legislation was adopted from EU Regulation 261/2004, with any compensation paid out in pounds rather than euros.

If your flight is cancelled, the airline needs to provide two options for you: a full refund (including any affected return journeys) reimbursed within seven days, or an alternative flight, including with a rival airline. The replacement flight can be the next available one, or one on a future date. You are within your rights to request a full refund if the alternative flight isn’t suitable for you. And if you have a connecting flight and you decide not to travel, the airline must take you back to your original departure point. See more information here.

Will there be more strikes?

In addition to the strike on September 16-17, the union has announced further action at the end of the month, from Wednesday 28 to Friday 30. Details may yet change, but this coincides with strikes planned by the CGT federation of trade unions.

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