19 June 2002

Flight chaos across Europe after air traffic control strikes

By Pat Hurst, PA News

Holiday firms and airlines were today scrambling to help tens of thousands travellers hit by a
series of strikes causing travel chaos across Europe.

ABTA warn that at least 80,000 tourists to Spain will be hit tomorrow, along with thousands facing cancellations on flights to France today.

Travellers are warned to contact their tour operators or airlines urgently as some flights are brought forward and others cancelled or postponed.

Many firms have issued emergency telephone numbers for customers to ring.

Air traffic controllers in France are to strike for 12 hours today, and further action is possible in Italy, Portugal and Greece.

The action coincides with a general strike in Spain tomorrow which will cause even more

French civil aviation authorities said they expected, "major disturbances" in French air travel today because of the protests.

All flights not only into France, but across French airspace will be affected, including flights to Spain and Greece.

Four hundred flights into Spain have already been cancelled.

British Airways has now cancelled most of its 126 flights in and out of France until midnight.

Around 15,000 passengers will be hit by the cancellations and delays.

Only four flights will operate as normal.

A further 38 flights to Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg have been cancelled.

A BA spokesman said: "Where possible we will be operating larger aircraft to accommodate those passengers from cancelled flights."

Buzz has also cancelled 50 flights to France today.

A further 80,000 Britons may be hit by the 24–hour general strike by workers in Spain.

British tour operators were making contingency plans to cope with the problem.

"We are trying to switch some early Thursday flights to tonight and some late Thursday ones to Friday," said a spokesman from Thomson Holidays, the UK's biggest tour company.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents said Palma Airport on Majorca, will be closed tomorrow.

She said: "Tour operators are making big contingency plans and doing everything in their
power to stop delays. It is a big problem to deal with."

ABTA recommends travellers to contact tour operators to check on times of flights.

BA say passengers affected by the French strike will be automatically booked on the next
available flight, or be given flight vouchers.
It also recommends that customers check flight
details by ringing 0845 779 9977 or on the web at www.britishairways.com.

MyTravel says all its customers travelling to Spain, the Balearics and the Canaries who have
not already been contacted about flight changes should ring their customer hotline on 01706

Passengers at Manchester Airport were faced with delays of between two and three hours.

A spokeswoman for the airport said 16 flights had been affected, with five Air France flights and some British Airways flights cancelled.

"Some flights are also delayed and passengers are experiencing delays of two or three hours," she said.

"It is mainly France and Greece that are affected and we are working with the airlines to
re–schedule flights."