French ATC Strike Causes Flights Chaos

21 July 2010 (Last Updated July 21st, 2010 18:30)

French airports have cancelled hundreds of flights due to a strike called by air traffic controllers on 20 July 2010. The strike was called to protest a European plan to create several large air traffic control (ATC) regions, which air traffic control unions fear will prompt job losse

French airports have cancelled hundreds of flights due to a strike called by air traffic controllers on 20 July 2010.

The strike was called to protest a European plan to create several large air traffic control (ATC) regions, which air traffic control unions fear will prompt job losses.

The strike is supported by four of the nine French ATC unions and will last until the morning of 22 July, according to The Wall Street Journal.

On 21 July, French civil aviation authority La Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile cancelled half of the flights through Paris-Orly International Airport and 20% of flights through Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport.

National carrier Air France cancelled 80% of its short and medium-haul flights at Paris-Charles de Gaulle on 21 July in an effort to maintain all its long-haul flights from the airport.

The new European system, which the unions are striking against, will include six ATC regions to improve air traffic capacity, enhance security and reduce the cost of air traffic services.

France's airspace authorities will be combined with five other countries including Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium to form the Functional Airspace Block Europe Central.

The French unions say they fear the pan-European plan will lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs in France, where the ATC system employs nearly 12,000 people.