Bloomberg News

French Flights Delayed as Strikes Take Travelers ‘Hostage’

December 20, 2011

(Updates with comment from EasyJet in seventh paragraph.)

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Flights from Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport were delayed and Lyon’s Saint-Exupery airport is canceling a third of its departures today as security staff extended their strike for a fourth day.

Workers are “taking the French hostage as they go on holiday,” said Valerie Pecresse, the government’s spokeswoman.

The delays from the strike by security workers demanding higher wages come as France’s schools enter the first week of their year-end holiday. Talks between representatives of the workers and management yesterday resulted in “total failure,” newspaper Les Echos reported, citing labor unions.

At Paris’s Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, passengers traveling through Terminal 2 should expect security delays, Aeroports de Paris said on its website. The average delay is 45 minutes, it said in an e-mailed statement. The operator of the airport said no cancellations are expected, adding that as of 11 a.m., 165 of the day’s 630 flights had taken off.

Air France canceled four flights from Lyon to Paris, Amsterdam and Bordeaux, and said on its website that it is trying to minimize delays from the French capital. Air France uses Terminal 2 at Paris’s CDG to fly passengers to Hong Kong, New York and Santiago.

Lyon’s airport, used by EasyJet Plc to fly passengers to destinations such as Edinburgh, Prague and Casablanca, is suffering the most from the walkout of security workers who check passengers and bags. To speed things up, luggage requiring special handling such as skis, snowboards and golf caddies won’t be loaded on planes, Aeroports de Lyon said on its website.

‘Home for Christmas’

“We are hopeful that the cancellations are now behind us, as it’s one of the busiest times of the year,” Paul Moore, a spokesman for EasyJet, said in a telephone interview. “Our focus is on getting people home for Christmas.”

EasyJet, based in Luton, England, canceled flights in recent days because of the strike but it plans to operate a full schedule today, despite delays, according to Moore.

Other French airports including Toulouse are less affected, Le Parisien said. Service at Paris’s Orly airport is normal, ADP said in its statement today.

The government intends to introduce a measure in January that will force strike plans to be publicized 48 hours in advance, Pecresse told France Info radio today.

--With assistance from Steven Rothwell in London. Editors: Vidya Root, David Risser.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marthe Fourcade at mfourcade@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net


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