Paris airport strike triggers flight cancellations for third day


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Airport workers went on strike at Paris’s main international airport Roissy-Charles de Gaulle for a third consecutive day on Saturday, forcing the cancellation of several flights and bringing more disruption to early summer travel.

The civil aviation authority DGAC said it asked airlines to cancel one in five flights at the Paris hub between 7am and 2pm local time (GMT+2) on Saturday, a day after one in every six flights was cancelled.

Scores of ground staff protested in front of one terminal on Friday to demand a big pay rise to cushion the pain of high inflation, emboldened by booming demand for air travel and staff shortages caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Queues built up inside the terminals as some passengers sought to make alternative arrangements and others arrived early fearing disruption.

“We’ve been here since 3 o’clock this morning and we’re still waiting. This is not going well at all,” Philippine Tournier, who had booked a flight for Cancun, Mexico, told Reuters.

Rising living costs are hurting households across Europe. Inflation in Britain hit 9.1% last month, its highest in four decades, contributing to strikes or threats of industrial action by workers across transport services, schools, postal services and hospitals. 

After the Covid crisis battered the travel industry, Paris airports group ADP and its unions last year signed a deal entailing lower wages. But workers say the economic picture has changed.

Unions are demanding a net €300 increase per month on salaries, an amount the companies involved had rejected.

In a first step towards an agreement and potentially setting the bar for other wage talks in the sector, ADP this week had proposed a 4 percent pay rise, said Daniel Bertone, who represents the CGT union at the negotiating table.

“This is not at the level of today’s inflation, but it’s notable progress”, he added in a hint that a deal could be reached based on that proposal. Regardless of which measure of inflation he was referring to, 4 percent is well below both the EU harmonised rate of 6.5 percent and the non-harmonised 5.8 percent.

However, ADP directly only employs a minority of Charles de Gaulle ground personnel, the majority of whom hold labour contracts with airlines and a large number of subcontractors.

Several European airlines and airports have experienced strikes in recent weeks and more travel disruptions are expected next month as airline workers use strong travel demand and staff shortages caused in part by the pandemic to push for higher wages and better working conditions.

Airports in cities such as London, Amsterdam, Rome and Frankfurt have had to cope with flight cancellations and long queues.



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