Strikes by air traffic controllers in France are expected to ground up to 40 percent of the country's air traffic. Flights to other countries including Germany have also been affected.
French workers belonging to the SNCTA air traffic controllers union have begun strikes on Wednesday that will have widespread implications for air travel in France and Europe. Authorities in France said air traffic could be reduced by as much as 40 percent on Wednesday, with the strike expected to continue into Thursday.
The union has called for talks regarding working practices and the workers' retirement age.
Air France said it hoped to operate almost all of its long-haul flights and would maintain 60 percent of its medium-haul schedule. On short-haul flights operated by its subsidiary HOP!, the airline recommended that travelers put off their travel until April 10, with two-thirds of short-haul flights from Paris's Orly airport set to be canceled and 40 percent set to be cancelled at other airports.
Irish airline Ryanair said in a statement that it had been forced to cancel over 250 flights on Wednesday.
"We sincerely apologize to all customers affected by this unwarranted strike action and we call on the EU and French authorities to take measures to prevent any further disruption," the statement read. "It's grossly unfair that thousands of European travelers will once again have their travel plans disrupted by the selfish actions of a tiny number of French [air traffic control] workers."
Lufthansa and its low-cost subsidiary German Wings both issued statements saying flights to and from France could be affected by the strikes and advised travelers to check on their individual flights to see if they were affected. The statements warned that the strikes could have further implications throughout the rest of the airlines' networks.
The SNCTA union has also called for further strikes on April 16-18 and April 29 to May 2 if no progress is made in negotiations with employers.
mz/jil (dpa, AFP)