Hundreds more flights scrapped as French air traffic controller strike continues

Hundreds more flights scrapped as French air traffic controller strike continues
Planes sit on the tarmac at Orly airport as the French air traffic controllers strike continues.

PARIS - Hundreds of flights were cancelled and delays reported at airports around France Thursday as a strike by air traffic controllers entered its second day.

The civil aviation authority asked airlines to scrap around half of their flights to avoid chaos.

That was a little more than on Wednesday when the advance move proved successful as airports were not mobbed by angry passengers, who had been warned and made other plans.

The strike has been called by the main air traffic union SNCTA, which wants to negotiate over the working conditions of its members.

A particular bone of contention is the pushing back of the retirement age for air traffic controllers from 57 to 59.

Further industrial action is planned from April 16 to 18 and from April 29 to May 2, key holiday periods.

Flag carrier Air France said it was operating one in four flights to and from the Paris airport of Orly, around 40 per cent to and from cities in the rest of the country and one in two medium-haul flights to and from the main capital airport of Charles-de-Gaulle.

The airline said long-haul flights were not affected Thursday.

Low-cost operator easyJet, meanwhile, said it had cancelled more than 220 flights, a little more than the previous day.

And its rival Ryanair fumed, saying it had been forced to scrap more than 500 flights altogether.

"We again call on the EU and French authorities to act now and prevent thousands of travellers being held to ransom by these French ATC (air traffic control) workers," the Irish airline said in a statement.

Roger Rousseau, SNCTA union head, insists that the strike was not prompted by a spur-of-the-moment, angry decision.

"Since 2013, we've been taken for a ride meeting after meeting," he said earlier this week.

The SNCTA had originally called the strike from March 25 to 27 but scrapped it after the Germanwings crash in the French Alps that killed 150.

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