SHARE
COPY LINK

STRIKES

French regional airports close as air traffic controllers strike

Several of France's regional airports closed completely on Friday, while others offered a skeleton service as air traffic controllers went on strike.

French regional airports close as air traffic controllers strike
More than 1,000 flights have been cancelled in France - around half of all scheduled routes - as air traffic controllers strike. Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Around 1,000 flights to and from France were cancelled on Friday as the country’s air traffic controllers went on strike, with their action also causing delays across European airspace.

France’s DGAC civil aviation authority said 16 airports were operating a skeleton service, as were traffic control centres guiding planes overflying French territory at high altitude.

READ ALSO 1,000 flights cancelled: How strikes affect travellers in Europe on Friday

But several regional airports were closed and the DGAC warned of “cancellations and significant delays across the country”.

European air traffic body Eurocontrol said it was seeing “significant disruption”, with delays totalling over 500,000 minutes by 8.30am.

That was more than three times the level across the whole of last Friday when air traffic was moving normally.

Delays of an average 25 minutes per flight were mostly down to the strike, Eurocontrol said.

Around 21,000 planes are expected to pass through Eurocontrol airspace on Friday, down by around one third.

Air France dropped around half its 800 planned services Friday, while Europe’s largest airline Ryanair said it had cancelled 420 flights overflying or landing in France.

The DGAC said it was working with Eurocontrol to divert planes around French airspace.

The SNCTA air traffic controllers’ union said its members are concerned that pay is not keeping up with soaring inflation.

Air traffic controllers are among France’s best-paid civil servants, earning an average of €5,000 per month according to a parliamentary report.

The union also warns that recruitment is falling short, risking gaps in the profession’s ranks.

One-third of existing air traffic controllers are expected to retire between 2029 and 2035, and training new ones takes at least five years.

The SNCTA says the long wait for new recruits means fresh funding is needed for additional training capacity.

It has filed notice of a further strike on September 28th-30th.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

PARIS

‘Drunks, drug-dealers and pickpockets’ – French police crackdown at Paris Gare du Nord

Police in the capital are planning a massive operation to clean up Paris' chaotic and grotty Gare du Nord station - described by the local police commander as "full of drunks, crack dealers and pickpockets".

'Drunks, drug-dealers and pickpockets' - French police crackdown at Paris Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord serves not only as one of the major rail hubs for the capital, but also the arrival point for the Eurostar and shuttles from Paris’ two main airports – meaning that it is often the first part of the city that tourists see.

And it doesn’t give a good impression – the station is dark, confusingly laid out and its infrastructure is crumbling, so it’s far from uncommon to see buckets placed to catch water from the leaking rook.

But it’s the security aspect that worries the police – as the station has also become a hotspot for pickpockets, unlicensed taxi drivers, illegal street vendors and drug dealers, as well as a hangout for homeless people, many of whom have mental health problems.

Although the biggest security problem is undoubtedly pickpocketing – especially of confused, newly arrived tourists – there are occasionally more serious incidents, such as the attack on January 11th when a man randomly assaulted seven members of the public with a sharpened chisel.

A year previously, another knife-wielding man, later revealed to be homeless and with mental health problems who frequented the station, was shot by police.

Police presence in the station has now been massively stepped up, with dozens of officers patrolling at all hours of the day and night, in addition to the soldiers from Operation Sentinelle who make regular patrols of Gare du Nord (and other sites that have the potential to be terror attack targets).

The commander of the unit based at Gare du Nord told Le Parisien: “Unlicensed cigarette sellers, crack cocaine dealers, pickpocketing, drunk people – these are all problems that characterise Gare du Nord.

However, she added that things have improved in recent years, saying: “There is no longer a war between rival gangs, who used to come here regularly to fight in front of the [now-defunct] Foot Locker store. Many new stores have moved in. The light is soothing. It’s not an anxiety-provoking place at all.”

The station – through which 700,000 people pass every day – has long been a sore point for city authorities, who are well aware of the poor impression it gives to new arrivals.

However in 2021, an ambitious plan to completely redevelop it and add a huge new shopping mall was rejected. Instead, it was decided to simply give the existing station a revamp in time for the 2024 Olympics. 

SHOW COMMENTS