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Paris flights hit by five-dayair traffic control strike

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP)- Traffic at the Orly airport south of Paris was reduced by 60 percent early Monday, airport sources said, as a result of a strike by air traffic controllers angered by a plan they fear will make them work at Charles de Gaulle airport north of the capital.

Some controllers were continuing to work under government requisition, and Air France said long-distance flights were taking off as usual. However, the airline said it would be able to operate only about 40 percent of its short- and medium-haul flights.

Orly serves mostly domestic and European destinations. The strike was scheduled to last until Friday.

Operations at Charles de Gaulle airport were not immediately affected, officials said.

Because warnings of the strike have been circulating since Friday, crowds at Orly were relatively limited, airport sources said.

The strike coincided with a busy period of winter holidays in France, with schools in the Paris, Versailles and Bordeaux regions closed for half-term breaks.

More traffic mayhem was possible later this week as a result of a call by the predominantly communist General Labor Confederation (CGT) for the strike to be extended to the Athis-Mons air traffic control centre, which is responsible for all flights over the Ile-de-France region, including Paris.

There was no word from the Civil Aviation Directorate early Monday about plans for a minimum service at the Charles de Gaulle airport if the strike is extended.

Union officials said the strike is aimed at a reorganization that would send most of the 120 Orly controllers to Charles de Gaulle airport, leaving only a few ground controllers at Orly. These would control the movement of aircraft on the runways and taxiways, but not in the air.

The unions say that this relocalization would amount to a major hardship for members because of the long traveling time between the two airports.

The dispute has also led to bad blood among the unions at Orly, with many workers accusing the National Union of Air Transport Controllers (SNCTA) of agreeing to a deal with the government without consulting other unions.


                                                              Subject: France news