French strikes to cause chaos as thousands of flights expected to be cancelled

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Air traffic controllers and rail workers will down tools from 21 March to 23 March

Travellers are to face disruption as French workers will go on strike for 35 hours from Wednesday 21 March to Friday March 23.

Air traffic controllers will withdraw their labour nationwide, while employees of SNCF, the Paris Metro, and RER – who run commuter trains – will join the strike on Thursday 22 March.

Controllers will down tools between 21:00 on Wednesday and 6:00 on Friday, local time. Rail unions will strike between 21:00 on Wednesday and 8:00 on Friday.

Pilots at the airline Hop!, a subsidiary of Air France, will strike on 22-23 March, while pilots, flight attendants, and ground crew staff at Air France and Air France subsidiary Joon are planning to strike on 23 March.

Air France pilots have also voted in favour of a long-term strike, which will continue past 23 March if necessary.

The actions will seriously disrupt travel across and over France during that time.

Rail networks will also be disrupted by the industrial action – Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock French strikesRail networks will also be disrupted by the industrial action – Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock

French workers are protesting against the labour reforms being implemented by President Emmanuel Macron.

Eurocontrol, the European air traffic management organisation, is reporting that French authorities have ordered a 30 per cent reduction in arrivals and departures at the main Paris airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, as well as Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Toulouse.

The number of planes able to overfly France will be significantly reduced. During past disputes with air traffic control in France, hundreds of flights have been cancelled or delayed.

Air France said: “It remains too early to ascertain the effects this strike might have on our flights.” Passengers are likely to be informed the day before if their flight is cancelled.

It may reduce the number of passengers allowed upon an aircraft if it is flying with a skeleton crew.

Passengers booked with Air France on Friday or Saturday are being offered to change their arrangements without penalty.

Rail workers are expected to begin a series of rolling strikes, to begin on 3 April. A stoppage will commence every five days until 28 June.