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A French air traffic control strike is expected to impact tens of thousands across Europe significantly, starting from Friday.
80,000 people were impacted by Ryanair’s cancellation of 420 flights, the majority of which were planned to fly through France. British Airways has canceled 22, EasyJet has slashed 76 flights, and Air France has announced that it will only operate 45% of its short-haul flights.
Separately, the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth will change 15% of the Heathrow Airport schedule on Monday.
There will be flight cancellations, including 100 British Airways flights and 4 Virgin Atlantic flights, to keep the skies over London calm during the celebrations.
Airlines’ hopes of a summer resurgence following widespread COVID-19 lockdowns were dashed when strikes and staff shortages forced them to cancel thousands of flights. Disruption continued into the autumn as a result.
Reasons for the Air traffic control strike
The French air traffic control union (SNCTA) is on strike in France, citing pay, recruiting, and rising inflation issues. The SNCTA claims that the cause of the strike by its members was the impact of inflation and the need for more employees.
According to Ryanair, all impacted guests have been informed. Typically, the low-cost airline runs over 3,000 flights per day. However, the Irish airline claimed that the cancellation of 420 flights, most of which were scheduled to fly over France, had disrupted the travel plans of 80,000 customers.
Neal McMahon, director of operations for Ryanair, referred to it as “inexplicable” that the travel plans of thousands of European citizens and guests will be unfairly interfered with. He claimed that while domestic flights are protected by French law, flights above the nation are not. EasyJet, a competitor in the low-cost airline market, said that French authorities had asked it to cancel flights.
In addition to the 22 Heathrow-bound flights that were canceled, British Airways warned that there might be some more delays on Friday. Only 45% of Air France’s short- and medium-haul flights, and 90% of its long-haul flights, are operated. It also cautioned that cancellations and delays could happen at the last minute.
According to the French civil aviation regulator DGAC, flight cancellations apply to all of France. In order to assist airlines in avoiding the nation’s air space, it further stated that it was currently collaborating with the European aviation safety agency Eurocontrol.
The summer travel season in Europe was severely hampered by strikes in the airline sector, which also affected ground and cabin crew members who were seeking pay increases to cover rising living expenses due to high inflation.
At the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, many firefighters and staff strikes in July caused cancellations and delays.
Low-cost airline EasyJet reported that the strike had forced the cancellation of 76 flights.
British Airways announced that it had made a few minor adjustments to its short-haul schedule and is providing customers with rebooking and refund alternatives for flights that have been canceled.
Major airports in the surrounding nations were also impacted; the Spanish airport operator AENA said that 65 flights had to be canceled.
According to Heathrow Airport, the flight schedule on Monday will vary because of the Queen’s funeral.
All takeoffs and landings on Monday will be delayed for 15 minutes before and after the two-minute moment of silence that will follow the burial, according to Heathrow.
After that, there won’t be any arrivals between 13:45 and 14:20 for the hearse procession and no departures between 15:03 and 16:45 for the formal procession to Windsor Castle via the Long Walk.
Departures will be lowered between 16:45 and 21:00 to facilitate the committal service at St. George’s Chapel.
Additionally, it was announced that flights will be diverted away from Windsor Castle “to reduce noise during the private family service and funeral.”
Due to guidelines from the Civil Aviation Authority, travelers whose flights are severely delayed or canceled on Monday due to adjustments at Heathrow are not legally eligible for monetary compensation. This is due to the likelihood that these may be regarded as extraordinary circumstances.
Airlines do, however, provide passengers with refunds or new reservations.