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Paris air control striketo last until end of February

PARIS, Feb 18 (AFP) – A rolling strike by air traffic controllers in Paris which forced the cancellation of many flights to and from the French capital Wednesday threatened to worsen as Air France personnel prepared their own stoppages.

Sixty percent of flights using the southern Orly airport have been grounded this week because of the strike by the controllers at the facility, who are protesting changes to the way the airspace over Paris is managed.

A dozen flights at the much bigger Charles de Gaulle airport were also scrapped early Wednesday as some controllers at another air traffic centre covering the entire Paris region stayed away from their posts for the second day running in a show of solidarity.

The Orly controllers have voted to continue their strike to at least the end of next week, with only a brief respite this coming weekend to facilitate the movement of passengers enjoying French winter vacations.

The government was using a law stipulating minimum service must continue during strikes to maintain 40 percent of Orly flights by ordering 12 of the 60 controllers on duty each day to remain at work.

But another strike, by employees in Air France’s cargo operations based at Charles de Gaulle airport, could aggravate the situation.

They are to strike Thursday to protest the restructuring that is to follow the approved merger between Air France and Dutch carrier KLM.

Air France flight attendants may follow suit “between now and the end of spring or the beginning of summer” because of plans to reduce their numbers on short-haul and medium-haul flights, an airport source said.

EU and US officials last week approved the Air France-KLM merger, which would create the world’s biggest airline group in terms of revenues. In terms of the number of passengers flown, it will be fourth, behind US carriers American, Delta and United, according to the International Air Transport Association.


                                                              Subject: France news