Passengers flying British Airways (BA), Ryanair and easyJet are to bear the brunt of the French air traffic strike yet again. The three airlines together have cancelled more than 100 flights flying to and from the UK.
This follows hundreds of cancellations and diversions of flights in the country on 28 March due to Storm Katie. The present air traffic strike is said to be the country's 43<sup>rd since 2009. As recently as 20 March hundreds of passengers flying from Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton to French airports faced delays and cancellations because of a three-day industrial action.
The current strike is part of a nationwide protest against the French government's proposal to relax certain benefits for workers such as the 35-hour week. Apart from air traffic controllers, other transport workers, teachers and broadcast staff are also said to be participating in this strike.
While BA has cancelled 30 flights to and from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City to France and Spain, Ryanair, the biggest low-cost airline in Europe is said to have cancelled more than 100 flights, which is likely to affect 15,000 plus passengers.
EasyJet, UK's biggest budget airline claimed that 65% of its carriers use the French air space, indicating that these are set to be affected. It also added: "Unfortunately even flights not flying through French airspace could be affected, if the aircraft operating the flight has been delayed due to the strike on previous flights."
BA too said that while the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) had asked for the cancellation of some flights of all airlines using French airspace, other European flights using the French airspace were "likely to experience delays and cancellations." The company added that in order to reduce the extent of the damage, it would try to use larger aircraft.
Criticising the strike, Ryanair said, "This latest unjustified action shows that a tiny French union can yet again hold Europe's single market and open skies to ransom while the French Government protects French domestic flights."