Huge numbers delayed after ATC joins French national strike

Travellers due to travel through French airspace face five days of chaos because of a national strike against plans for pension reform with hundreds of flights already cancelled.

Britain’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, has cancelled 233 flights so far – affecting 40,000 passengers with the national air traffic control organisation DNSA warning of “an inter-professional social movement affecting the entire French public services and private sector”.

Aviation industry notices called NOTAMs were published confirming this week’s strike that is due to last for three days, from 18:00 on Wednesday December 4 until 05:00 on Sunday December 8.

“It’s part of a nationwide strike which will also impact ground handling services at airports nationwide,” reports industry news service OpGroups. “Initially called by public transport unions opposed to the government’s pension reforms, various other unions have since pledged to join the strike, including public sector workers, teachers, postal workers, hospital staff, firefighters and lorry drivers. Many unions have warned that strikes might run until Christmas, but for now, air traffic controllers have only planned strike action for three days this week.”

In a December 3 teleconference organised by Eurocontrol which manages strategic European air traffic flows, managers said they expected en route regulations to be applied across all sectors – which means significant delays across French airspace.

OpsGroup reports that the situation at the airports is more complex. The worst staff shortages are expected to happen at the area control centre level, rather than at the local airports. However, these airports are expected to have some issues:

Paris Charles De Gaulle On the morning of Thursday 5 December, there will be an airport firefighter strike between 07-12 local time (06-11z). As a result, only one runway will be available for this period, so significant delays are expected all morning, particularly if weather conditions are not good.

Toulouse & Bordeaux High delays expected all three days

Pau, Tarbes, Biarritz, Cannes, Rouen, Lille Smaller airports mean possible closures, particularly at night. For these and other smaller airports, ATS services may not be provided at all at certain times.

Additionally, the government has decided to request airlines reduce their schedules by 20 per cent between 05-23:00 on December 5 at these airports: Beauvais, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux.

For real-time updates of any airspace issues once the strike has started, visit DSNA webpage