French air traffic controllers strike threatens to disrupt travel at Paris airport

French air traffic controllers are set to go on a one-day strike on Thursday, which risks canceling most flights at Paris' two main airports, France's main aviation association warned on Tuesday.

Unions have called a strike after negotiations over pay increases and other measures in a plan to overhaul France's air traffic control system broke down.

The move raises fresh concerns about the risk of strikes during the Olympics, which Paris plans to host from late July and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of additional visitors.

The main air transport unions have also warned they could order a multi-day strike over the busy May weekend if their demands are not met.

Pascal de Izaguirre, president of FNAM, the umbrella group for French airline trade unions, said the strike would be “very strongly carried out.”

He said 75% of flights could be canceled at Paris' Orly airport and 65% at Charles de Gaulle, the capital's main airport. Regional airports are also expected to be significantly affected.

“It's going to have a huge impact,” he said.

In addition to cancellations, “significant delays” are expected, an official with the air traffic controllers union said on condition of anonymity.

Air traffic control reforms are aimed at improving productivity, but unions believe reforms should be accompanied by higher salaries.


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