Flight chaos ahead as French air traffic staff launch strike action over labour reforms

European airlines are warning passengers to brace for disruption and cancellations as unions in France prepare to go on strike.

The strikes have been called due to a breakdown in talks between the EU Commission and the French ATC unions over labour reform plans.

The strikes are expected to take place at 6pm British time today and will last until 5am on Friday 23 March.

Ryanair said it has been forced to cancel over 100 flights and that there was a risk that number could rise.

The airline said in a statement: “Ryanair regrets that it has been forced to cancel a number of flights on Thursday (22 Mar) to/from/over France. Affected customers have been notified and advised of their options by email and SMS text message to the contact details provided at the time of booking. Further cancellations are possible and delays likely as French ATC unions yet again close the skies over Europe.”

Customers travelling tomorrow have been urged to check the status of their flight on the Ryanair website before travelling.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said: “Yet again, thousands of European consumers will have their travel plans disrupted by a tiny group of French ATC unions going on strike this week. As a result, we regret we’ve been forced to cancel a number of flights on Thursday, 22nd March.

“All of our affected customers have been contacted and informed of their options and we advise all those travelling on Thursday to check the status of their flight on the website before leaving for their airport. We again urge European consumers to sign the A4E online petition, Keep Europe’s Skies Open, ( to help protect Europe from repeated disruption by ATC unions. Enough is enough.” said it would “continue to do everything we can to operate as close to our normal schedule as possible during this strike action”.

EasyJet said it was one of number of airlines that would have to reduce its schedule from Thursday at the request of the French Civil Aviation Authority, resulting in the cancellation of 14 flights between the UK and France.

“Fourteen flights between the UK and France will no longer operate with a total 110 flights across the network affected by cancellations in line with DGAC instructions.”

The airline added that affected customers would be able to transfer their flight free of charge or receive a refund and hotel accommodation.

British Airways, meanwhile, said its flight schedule was facing significant disruption.

“Yet again the French Air Traffic Control trade unions are causing unnecessary frustration and disruption for customers at a busy time of year.

“We are doing our best to reduce the levels of disruption and are offering our customers who are due to fly to/from France, Madrid or Barcelona during the strike period, the chance to rebook their flight if they no longer wish to travel even if their flight is still scheduled to operate.

“We are advising customers to keep checking on for the latest information about their flights, as the situation is likely to change at short notice.”

On its website, Flybe published a list of flights that had been cancelled, including several from Manchester and Birmingham to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport.

: Ryanair signs “historic” agreement to recognise UK pilots’ union