French air traffic controller strike threaten travel chaos at Paris airports

French air traffic controllers are to stage a one-day strike Thursday that risks seeing most flights cancelled at the two main Paris airports, France's leading aviation association warned Tuesday.

Unions called the strike after a breakdown of negotiations on salary increases and other measures in a planned overhaul of France's air traffic control system.

The action has raised new concerns over the risk of strikes during the Olympic Games that Paris is due to host from late July, when hundreds of thousands of extra visitors are expected.

The main air traffic union has also warned it could order several days of strike action over a busy May holiday weekend if its demands are not met.

The strike is going to be "very strongly followed", said Pascal de Izaguirre, the head of FNAM, an umbrella group of French aviation industry unions.

He said 75 percent of flights could be cancelled at Paris Orly airport and 65 percent at Charles de Gaulle, the capital's main airport. Regional airports are also set to be badly affected.

"It will have a huge impact," he said.

On top of the cancellations, "major delays" are to be expected, said an official from the air traffic controllers' union, asking not to be named.

The air traffic control reforms aim to improve productivity but unions think the changes should be accompanied by higher salaries.


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