Heading for France? Air travel chaos expected as controllers call major strike

PARIS (AFP) - France faces more travel chaos next week after air traffic controllers announced a strike amid an ongoing rail protest that is the biggest industrial action in years.

The two biggest air controllers' unions, SNCTA and Unsa-ICNA, said they would strike for six days from Monday and warned of "a heavy disruption" of flights.

The strike, in the midst of the peak tourist season in a nation that attracts more foreign visitors than any other country in the world, follows a 10-day rail protest that has affected services to foreign countries as well as domestically.

More than 60 per cent of the 4,000 air traffic controllers voted late on Thursday for the strike, which comes ahead of a June 30 deadline for France to present its budget plans for the sector over five years to Brussels.

The strikers are protesting against planned cuts between 2015 and 2019 that they say will threaten the "necessary performance and modernisation needed to ensure an efficient air navigation service in France."

The cuts form part of a European Commission plan, called Single Sky Europe, to reduce air navigation costs by organising airspace into functional blocks, according to traffic flows rather than national borders.

The strikers argue that the move will lead to the liberalisation and a "forced low-cost" ethos in air traffic.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.