Thousands stranded on day five of Air France strike

29th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - Thousands of families and business passengers were left stranded at Paris's main airports Monday on the fifth and final day of a major strike by Air France flight staff.

29 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - Thousands of families and business passengers were left stranded at Paris's main airports Monday on the fifth and final day of a major strike by Air France flight staff.

Unions extended until midnight Monday their strike, which they launched Thursday on the eve of the French school holidays to demand better pay and conditions.

More than three quarters of Air France's 15,000 flight staff participated in the action.

Between 30 to 40 percent of long- and medium-haul flight connections were cancelled, fuelling chaotic scenes at Paris's main international airport Roissy, where some passengers have been stranded for days.

"Passengers to Bangalore, put your hands in the air," a member of ground staff yelled into a megaphone. "No, not today's passengers -- only those who've been waiting since October 27.

"Passengers for Mexico, please get out of the queue, there's no point waiting any more."

Further along, an agent explains to a crowd of frustrated passengers that "'On time', simply means 'Not cancelled yet'".

Air France expects air traffic to be back to normal by Tuesday, and offered immediate talks with unions to try to avert further strike action.

"I hope that we can sit down round the table as fast as possible, perhaps even today, if the unions are ready. In any case I am ready," Air France chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta told RTL radio.

Spinetta said he was astonished by the labour action, adding he was "ready to talk about all subjects" but rejected union demands for a financial package to be put on the table before the start of negotiations.

Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau criticised Air France for failing to anticipate the strike, and the unions for targeting the French holiday period in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper.

He said the airline needed to work harder to keep passengers informed in real-time of flight delays and cancellations.

Air France has taken legal action against unions seeking a total of 45 million euros (65 million dollars) in compensation for its losses. It has accused them of having failed to negotiate in the run-up to the strike.

AFP

Subject: French news

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