France is undergoing its most massive strike in decades. Starting on December 5, it is affecting air travel as well, as Air France staff and air traffic controllers are walking out. The strike has been extended until at least December 13 as of December 12.
Significant flight disruptions are to be expected throughout the strike. The latest industrial action, an air traffic controller strike, is scheduled to last at least until December 13th. It’s important to note that the ATC strike in France will likely not only disrupt the flights that are landing/departing in one of France’s airports, but also the flights that are flying over the French airspace.
As of December 10-11, airlines were asked to cancel about 20 percent of their services. Air France has canceled 25 percent of its domestic flights and 10 percent of its short-haul flights. Any flights departing/landing at Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Beauvais, Lyon, Marseille or Toulouse airports could be affected. The airlines will try to minimize disruptions to long-haul flights, but it’s highly recommended that all travelers flying to or from France check their flight status ahead of time.
The ATC strikes are also affecting airlines other than Air France. Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways and others are canceling flights, reported to be in the hundreds. Outside of airports, travelers can expect disruptions to all sorts of transport infrastructure.
Background of the strike in France
The strikes in France are a result of proposed changes to the pension and retirement system. The new system of calculating pensions would majorly negatively impact people who earned low wages or had stints of unemployment during their careers. This has to lead to people across all areas of employment, from firemen to barristers, to go on strike. It is not known how long it will last.
Your rights during the strike
As always, air passengers affected by the delays and cancellations due to the strikes have all the usual air passenger rights granted to them under Regulation (EC) 261/2004. For delays lasting more than two hours, the airline has to provide you with free meals and drinks. You should also be allowed to make two free calls, use email or send a free fax. If you have to wait for the flight for one or more nights, the carrier has to provide you with free accommodation at a hotel, including transport to/from the airport. In case they’re unable/unwilling to do this, save the receipts: all “rational” expenses (no VIP penthouses, caviar or limos) should be refunded.
Unfortunately, the flight disruption compensation law does not award compensation for disruptions due to strikes. In fact, many of the airlines are forced to cancel and delay flights due to disruptions to the airport operating conditions, which are outside their control. However, airlines are now announcing that people affected by these strikes can have refunds or rerouting – check with your air carrier to see what approach to the issue they’re taking.
If your flight disruptions – canceled flights, flight delays or overbooking – are not caused by these strikes, you’re more than welcome to claim flight compensation via Skycop! And if you want to know about strikes as they pop up, check out our strike table – it’s updated constantly by our specialists and is free for everyone to use!