French strike to hit flights on Thursday

LONDON (Reuters) - Flights to and from France face disruption on Thursday due to a strike by air traffic controllers that has prompted companies including EasyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa to scale back their normal schedule.

France's DGAC civil aviation authority said it was urging airlines to cut service by 10 per cent, particularly on links between France and Spain, Portugal and North Africa.

British low-cost airline easyJet and Ireland's Ryanair said they would have to cut about 30 per cent of flights as a result of the one-day protest over plans for changes to air traffic control practices at European level.

"EasyJet has been asked by the DGAC (France's civil aviation authority) to reduce its French flights by 30 per cent and as a result will cancel at least 50 flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly, Basel, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseilles and Toulouse," the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

Around 70 per cent of EasyJet's flights operate through French airspace, meaning there is a risk of delays and late notice cancellations to many other flights, the airline said.

Flights from the UK to destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Greece and North Africa face the threat of disruption, it added.

While European air traffic controller unions have lifted a strike call, two French unions representing about a quarter of all controllers in France maintained stoppage plans after talks with the civil aviation authority failed.

Ryanair said it would be scrapping 70 flights on Thursday, while German airline Lufthansa said it would reduce its flights to and from the French cities of Lyon and Marseille but that it believed flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport would not be affected.

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