French ATC strike causes hundreds of cancelled flights in two days

9 April 2015 (Last Updated April 9th, 2015 18:30)

The French air traffic controllers strike has forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled over the past two days.

The French air traffic controllers strike has forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled over the past two days.

EasyJet stopped 248 flights on Wednesday and a further 331 on Thursday, while low-cost airline Ryanair has cancelled more than 500 flights over the last two days.

Both inbound and outbound flights in France have been affected.

The strike has been organised by France's largest SNCTA union in a dispute over working conditions, including the plan of raising the retirement age for air traffic controllers from 57 to 59.

"We are operating five rescue flights, prioritising the repatriation of three groups of schoolchildren."

The BBC quoted Ryanair as saying: "We again call on the EU and French authorities to act now and prevent thousands of travellers being held to ransom by these French [air traffic control] workers."

Meanwhile, EasyJet has said that it is launching five 'rescue' flights to bring home hundreds of children who have been stuck in France because of the flights. The flights will be plying from Luton to Paris, Barcelona to Luton, Gatwick to Madrid, Marrakech to Gatwick and Paris to Barcelona.

London Evening Standard quoted an airline spokesman as saying: "We recognise that there are a number of passengers across the network who have been affected by these cancellations and still require flights as soon as possible.

"We are operating five rescue flights, prioritising the repatriation of three groups of schoolchildren."

The effects have been widespread and the Eiffel Tower was closed as thousands took to the streets to protest.

The BBC reported that air traffic controllers are planning further strikes from 16 to 18 April and from 29 April to 2 May, as they are key holiday periods.