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Strike in France expected to ground many overseas flights

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:13 PM EST, Tue February 7, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Air France says despite strike, 70% of long-haul service was in operation
  • French air transport workers are on strike through Thursday
  • The workers are protesting a draft law that requires a 48-hour notice before a strike

(CNN) -- Passengers traveling on Air France may face more delays as the airline prepares to cancel more flights due to a strike by aviation workers, a statement on the airline's website said Tuesday.

Workers, including pilots and flight attendants, have called for a four-day strike to protest a draft law that they say will curtail their right to strike. The work stoppage began Monday.

Despite the walk-out, Air France said it was able to operate more than 70% of its long-haul flights, but on Wednesday, the statement lowers that number to 60%.

Still, several passengers were caught off-guard by the strike.

Amelie Straub waited for an hour for her flight to Brazil Monday night before she was told that it was canceled.

When the 26-year-old returned to Charles de Gaulle airport Tuesday morning, she still didn't know whether she would be booked on a flight out of Paris.

Straub said she's not upset about the strike, but called Air France's handling of the walkout "unacceptable."

"What the crew did last night, I think that's unacceptable," she said. "I don't think we should ban the right to strike, but it should be controlled and we should be given ample warning."

Beatrice Lestic, a general coordinator for the transportation unions in France, said that 60% of pilots were on strike Tuesday, and she expects the number to increase Wednesday.

Lestic says Air France employees are against proposed legislation that would require workers to provide a 48-hour notice before they strike.

"Since the arrival of the proposed law, the intentions of government and businesses are clear: removing all means of dissent from air travel personnel," the main pilot union, SNPL, said.

"Let there be no mistake: in the light of the government and businesses' will to muzzle airline pilots, we must speak with one voice," the union added.

In addition to the cancellations of long haul flights -- flights involving long distances, such as international ones -- Air France said more than a quarter of its remaining scheduled flights are not expected to get off the ground Tuesday.

It advised passengers to postpone trips until after Friday.

CNN's Umaro Djau contributed to this report.

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