Air passengers face delays as air controllers strike | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.07.2010
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Air passengers face delays as air controllers strike

Air passengers face further chaos as French air traffic controllers strike over plans to merge European air authorities. Flights in Spain were cancelled after workers took sick leave in an alleged unofficial strike.

Air France jet tails

Air France said short and medium-haul flights would be affected

Airline passengers faced delays and cancellations on flights into and out of France on Wednesday as air traffic controllers began their strike that will continue through until Thursday morning.

Lines formed as 20 percent of flights from main hub Charles de Gaulle were cancelled and half of all flights from Paris's second biggest airport, Orly, which serves domestic and some international destinations, the civil aviation authority DGAC said.

The action was called by five trade unions, whose members are concerned about possible job losses and changes to working conditions as part of a merger of European aviation services.

"Some cancellations during the day on Wednesday cannot be ruled out, as well as some delays," said a statement from Air France.

Control tower at Madrid's Barajas airport

Air traffic controllers in Spain took sick leave, blaming stress

The airline said it would maintain 100 percent of long-haul flights out of Charles de Gaulle airport but that short and medium haul flights would be affected.

Six nations pool resources

The unions are protesting against the Single European Sky project, scheduled for the end of this year, which foresees the merger of the civil aviation agencies of France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government said it planned to use military air controllers to prevent flight delays because of understaffing.

The daily newspaper El Pais's Internet edition reported delays of up to one hour in flights from Barcelona, Alicante and Palma de Majorca to Madrid on Monday.

The chaos arose after more than one third of the country's air controllers called in sick, in what the government claims is an unofficial strike.

Air traffic controllers' union USCA denied this, but said many controllers had been forced to take sick leave because of "abusive" working hours and stress.

Author: Richard Connor, Gabriel Borrud (Reuters/dpa/AFP/AP)

Editor: Susan Houlton

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