PARIS, France - As par of a national strike by public sector workers in France, the air traffic controllers in the country went on a strike too.
The French ATC strike is said to have grounded an estimated 500 flights and delayed many more.
Delays, cancellations and disruption of air travel was quickly reported across Europe on Tuesday and Eurocontrol in Brussels warned of “high delays” at the air-traffic centres in Maastricht and Madrid “due to additional traffic refiling to avoid French Strike.”
Further, reports noted that the west of France was particularly badly hit, with the control centres at Brest and Bordeaux very short-staffed.
Eurocontrol said that Marseille, which controls the southeastern quadrant of France and a large tranche of Mediterranean airspace, is also experiencing “high delays.”
According to travel officials, Ryanair appeared to be the worst-affected airline and grounded dozens of flights to and from France and many more which cross French airspace.
Officials confirmed that Ryanair had cancelled 44 flights to and from its main base, Stansted, affecting an estimated 8,000 passengers.
Further, it had grounded French services to Nice, Toulouse, Limoges, La Rochelle, Bergerac, Perpignan, Tours, Biarritz and Carcassonne and cancelled three round-trips to Madrid and two to Marseille.
Even services with Spanish flights to Barcelona, Valencia, Ibiza, Reus, Seville, Palma and Castellon were cancelled while a single round-trip to Lisbon was also cancelled.
Ryanair said in a statement released through its spokesperson, “Our chat and phone lines are operating as normal, however with a higher volume of traffic due to these forced cancellations, and we are working hard to accommodate all customers. We have already processed a significant number of refunds and flight transfers as a result of this unjustified French ATC strike.“
Meanwhile, reports noted that British Airways too had cancelled 40 flights to and from London airports, including six serving Barcelona and Madrid.
It also grounded multiple flights to Marseille, Paris, Geneva and Nice.
The airline issued a statement saying, “We will be using larger aircraft, where possible, to help affected customers and are doing all we can to reduce the levels of disruption.”
Several more cancellations were reported by airlines across Europe.
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