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Paris airport strike triggers flight cancellations for third day

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Airport workers went on strike for the third consecutive day at Paris’ main international airport, Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, on Saturday, causing several flights to be canceled and more disruptive to travel early in the summer.

The civil aviation authority DGAC said it had 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 six flights was cancelled.

Dozens of ground staff protested in front of a terminal on Friday to demand a major pay rise to ease the pain of high inflation, emboldened by soaring demand for air travel and staff shortages, caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Queues developed in the terminals as some passengers tried to make alternative arrangements and others arrived early for fear of disruption.

“We have been here since 3am this morning and we are still waiting. This is not going well at all,” Philippine Tournier, who had booked a flight to Cancun, Mexico, told Reuters.

The rising cost of living affects households across Europe. Inflation in Britain reached 9.1% last month, a four-decade high, contributing to strikes or threats of union action by workers in transport services, schools, postal services and hospitals.

After the Covid crisis ravaged the travel industry, Paris airport group ADP and its unions signed a deal last year that will bring lower wages. But workers say the economic picture has changed.

Unions are demanding a net increase of €300 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 industry, ADP had proposed a 4 percent pay increase this week, said Daniel Bertone, who represents union CGT at the negotiating table.

“This is not at the level of current inflation, but it is remarkable progress,” he added, hinting that a deal could be reached based on that proposal. Regardless of which inflation measure he referred to, 4 percent is well below both the EU’s harmonized rate of 6.5 percent and the unharmonized 5.8 percent.

However, ADP directly employs only a minority of Charles de Gaulle’s ground staff, the majority of whom have employment contracts with airlines and a large number of subcontractors.

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

Airports in cities such as London, Amsterdam, Rome and Frankfurt have experienced flight cancellations and long queues.


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