A nationwide multipler sector strike in France, beginning 6pm Thursday evening and running through Friday 13 October and into Saturday morning, will see transport disrupted on the Rugby World Cup quarter final weekend.
Members of several transport unions will join the action, who are striking over workers’ rights, salaries, gender equality, pension reforms and the future of air transport in France.
The country’s civil aviation authority has warned that air traffic will be affected at three airports: Paris-Orly, Beauvais (Paris) and Marseille-Provence, with cancellations and delays expected – airlines have been instructed to reduce operations by 40 per cent at the three airports during the strike period.
Thousands of rugby fans will be travelling to France over the coming days. Wales are due to play Argentina in Marseille on Saturday afternoon, with England playing Fiji in the city on Sunday afternoon. Ireland face New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday night.
The country’s main union representing air traffic controllers, SNCTA, has not called for its members to strike. However, those represented by USAC CGT and UNSA-Civil Aviation have announced their intention to join the industrial action.
As a result, a number of flights from the UK to France and to destinations in Europe that require using French airspace have been cancelled, with delays likely on operating routes.
Ryanair, which has been particularly vocal about the ongoing strikes, said: “Due to the French ATC strike on Fri (13th Oct), we have been forced to cancel a small number of flights mainly overflying France. Affected passengers have been notified of their options to change flights (free of charge) or receive a full refund.”
The Irish carrier added that so far this year, there has been a total of 64 days of ATC strikes in France, forcing airlines to cancel thousands of EU overflights due to use French airspace. It is calling on the European Commission to force France to protect these flights during periods of industrial action.
EasyJet has said that “we expect that there will be delays and some disruption due to the industrial action, therefore we advise all customers to check the status of their flight on our flight tracker either on our mobile app or website.”
British Airways flights from Heathrow are currently scheduled to depart on time, with no forecast disruption on Friday. The airline has been contacted for comment.
Eurostar has said that its trains are expected to run as normal, but cautions that other trains in France may be disrupted. Domestically, three of four unions representing workers for France’s national rail network, SNCF, will strike from Thursday evening to Saturday morning, while many workers for Paris’s public transport system, RATP, will also join the action.
SNCF has said that trains will be “slightly disrupted” on the network on Friday, in particular Transilien commuter trains in and around Paris (Lines C, D, E, H, L, N, R, U). Regional TER lines are also likely to be disrupted.
Travellers should check updates with providers and allow plenty of time for travel.