Strike in France expected to ground many overseas flights

Air France workers on strike
Air France workers on strike

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Air France workers on strike 02:24

Story highlights

  • 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

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.

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