French Strikes: Flight Disruptions Expected

If you are in France or planning to travel to or from France tomorrow, Thursday, December 5th your flight may be delayed or even canceled. Following a winter of protests that blocked roads and motorways over a proposed fuel hike tax, France is now bracing for what could be the biggest strike in years.

Tomorrow’s strike in France will be the biggest in years. Photo: Anna Zvereva Wikimedia Commons.

Starting today, Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, workers at SCNF the French national railroad and the Paris regional transport RATP (metro and buses) will walk off the job at 19:00 CET. They will be joined by Air France ground crew and air traffic controllers, which will make flights in and out of French airports difficult.

Airlines are warning of severe disruptions

With air traffic controllers going on strike from Wednesday evening to Sunday morning Airlines are warning of severe disruptions. These disruptions will not only affect flights arriving and departing from France but overflights as well.

France’s national air-traffic control organization the DNSA is according to The Independent warning travelers about the strike but says a “minimum service will be ensured” at the Area Control Centers in Brest, Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris, and Reims.

Protests over pensions could cause flights to be canceled. Photo: Pete via Flickr

A certain number of flights will be able to operate out of major airports such as Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly, Strasbourg, Nice, Lyon, and Bordeaux. The joint French-Swiss run airports of Geneva and Basel will also allow certain flights to operate.

Regarding other French airports the DNSA said:

 “At other aerodromes, ATS [air-traffic] services might be unavailable during certain periods.”

easyJet is warning passengers about public transport

UK airlines are warning passengers about the strike with British Airways allowing passengers booked to fly to France the option of canceling and flying at a later date. The same goes for passengers heading to Spain, where flights cross through French airspace.

easyJet A319
Short-haul flights will be the worst affected. Photo: pxhere

easyJet one of the biggest airlines flying to and from France issued a statement about the strike on their website which read:

“We have been advised of a National Strike in France starting on Thursday 5th December, through to Saturday 7th Dec 2019. Some air traffic control staff are joining the strike action and therefore like all airlines, our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying in French airspace, could be affected.”

“We expect that there will be delays and cancellations due to the industrial action, therefore we advise all customers to check the status of their flight on our flight tracker either on our mobile app or website:”

“Please also be aware that public transport services will be affected by the strike. We recommend all customers, allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport and consider alternative transport options where possible.”

“Although this situation is outside of our control we would like to apologize to any affected passengers for the inconvenience caused.”

So far around 20% of all flights, most of which were short-haul have been canceled. What this probably means is that all long-haul flights to and from Paris-Charles De Gaulle will be operating as normal.

The problem will be getting to or from the airport and with all metro and buses not operating on a normal schedule, traffic will go from a normal bad to horrendous. It also means you will have more trouble getting a taxi or UBER ride.

Why are French workers striking?

The reason the unions have called a strike is to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the country’s pension system. The new system that he wants to introduce would-be point-based and threaten the early retirement of many public service workers.

The way pensions are currently calculated is based on a worker’s last six months earning rather than their entire working life. The new system will be based on lifetime earnings and not just the last six months when workers generally earn the most money.

For many people, this would equate to a much lower pension and is something French workers don’t want to see changed.