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A French air traffic control strike is expected to significantly impact tens of thousands of passengers on Friday.
The cancellation of 420 flights impacted 80,000 people by Ryanair, most of which were flying across France. In addition, air France announced that it would only operate 45% of its short-haul flights, while EasyJet has slashed 76 flights and British Airways has canceled 22.
Additionally, during Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral on Monday, 15% of the Heathrow Airport timetable will change.
There will be flight cancellations, including 100 British Airways flights and 4 Virgin Atlantic flights, to keep the skies over London calm during the activities.
Airlines’ hopes of a summer resurgence following widespread COVID-19 lockdowns were dashed when strikes and staff shortages prompted them to cancel thousands of flights. Disruption continued throughout the fall.
Reasons for the air traffic control strike
The French air traffic control union (SNCTA) is on strike in France over issues with pay, recruiting, and inflation. The SNCTA claims that the cause of its members’ walkout was the impact of inflation and the need for more employees.
According to Ryanair, all impacted guests have been notified. Typically, the low-cost airline runs about 3,000 flights every 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.
According to Ryanair operations director Neal McMahon, the unjust disruption of thousands of European nationals’ and visitors’ travel plans was “inexplicable.” According to him, internal flights in France are protected by law, but flights over the nation are not. In addition, EasyJet, a competitor in the low-cost airline market, said that French authorities had asked them to cancel flights.
According to British Airways, there may be some additional delays on Friday in addition to the 22 Heathrow-bound flights that have been canceled. Only 45% of Air France’s short- and medium-haul flights and 90% of its long-haul flights are operated. Additionally, it has warned that last-minute cancellations and delays cannot be completely ruled out.
According to the French civil aviation regulator DGAC, flight cancellations affect the entire country 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 agency that regulates air transport, Eurocontrol.
Summer travel 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, there were a number of fireman and staff strikes in July that caused cancellations and delays.
Low-cost airline EasyJet reported that the strike had caused the cancellation of 76 flights.
British Airways announced that it had made a few minor adjustments to its short-haul schedule and provided rebooking and refund options to passengers whose flights had been canceled.
Major airports in the surrounding nations were also impacted; the Spanish airport operator AENA reported having to cancel 65 flights.
Heathrow flight disruption
The flight schedule on Monday will be altered, according to Heathrow Airport.
Heathrow said that all departures and arrivals on Monday would be delayed for 15 minutes before and after the two-minute moment of silence that would follow the burial.
Following 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 via the Long Walk to Windsor Castle.
Departures will be lowered between 16:45 and 21:00 in order to support the committal service at St. George’s Chapel.
Additionally, flights will be diverted away from Windsor Castle “to reduce noise during the private family service and funeral,” it said.
Due to guidelines from the Civil Aviation Authority, travelers whose flights are severely delayed or canceled on Monday due to adjustments at Heathrow will not be legally eligible for financial compensation. This is because these are likely to be seen as extraordinary conditions.
Airlines do, however, provide passengers with refunds or rebookings.