French ATC strike hits Easyjet

<p>Easyjet has been forced to cancel almost 600 flights due to a strike by French air traffic controllers.</p>

The French air traffic controller (ATC) strike has left thousands of passengers stranded as they tried to return home.

Budget airline Easyjet confirmed that it has been forced to cancel almost 600 flights as the industrial action entered its second day. The carrier cancelled 248 flights on Wednesday (April 8th) and then a further 331 on Thursday. It has prompted Easyjet to lay on five "rescue" flights on Friday to allow people to get to their destinations.

One of the main priorities of the flights is to bring three parties of schoolchildren back to the UK. Other services include runs from Luton to Paris, Paris to Barcelona, Barcelona to Luton, Gatwick to Madrid and Marrakech to Gatwick. Easyjet confirmed that these services will be run by larger aircraft to ensure passengers most affected are able to return home.

France's ATC strike caused some stress to Easyjet's share price which dropped down to 1,880 in early morning trading on Friday (April 10th). However, it has since rallied and currently stands at 1,893 as 09:28 BST.

Airlines affected

The strike is proving extremely problematic for airlines across Europe. On Thursday, many carriers were changing their routes to ensure they avoided French airspace while the likes of Ryanair and Air France said that they would be cancelling a raft of flights.

Ryanair said in a statement: "We again call on the EU [European Union] and French authorities to act now and prevent thousands of travellers being held to ransom by these French [air traffic control] workers."

The strike action, brought by the union SNCTA, concerns the age of retirement for ATCs. Members are upset that it is being raised from 57 to 59. Further strikes are planned from April 16th to 18th and April 29th to May 2nd.

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