British Airways cancels 50 flights due to French air traffic control strikes

On schedule? British Airways has cancelled 50 short-haul flights on Thursday due to French air-traffic control strikes (Getty)
On schedule? British Airways has cancelled 50 short-haul flights on Thursday due to French air-traffic control strikes (Getty)

British Airways has cancelled 50 short-haul flights on Thursday (30 March).

The airline says striking air-traffic controllers in France, and inclement weather, are responsible for causing widespread disruption.

Multiple departures to Amsterdam, Hamburg, Nice, Prague and Zurich have been grounded, along with the inbound legs from those cities.

Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle are the domestic destinations affected.

A spokesperson for BA said: “Like other airlines, due to French air traffic control industrial action and forecasted bad weather, we’ve made a small number of schedule adjustments to some of our flights.

“This is beyond our control and we’re sorry for any disruption to our customers’ travel plans. We’re in contact with our customers to inform them of their rights and offer them options including a full refund or rebooking onto an alternative flight.”

The airline is operating some flights with larger aircraft to accommodate passengers from cancelled departures.

Under European air passengers’ rights rules, travellers on the cancelled flights can be rebooked on other services on the same day. Cash compensation is not payable because the cause is counted as an “extraordinary circumstance”.

Yesterday Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, warned there could be disruption every day through April because of the protests in France over raising the pension age.

He said so far this year 23 days have been hit by striking air-traffic controllers in France.

The BA cancellations come a day before a planned strike by 1,400 members of the Unite union working in security at Heathrow.

They are walking out from Friday 31 March until Easter Sunday, 9 April, in a dispute over pay. The majority work at security checkpoints at Terminal 5, with others staffing control posts across the airport where vehicles go “airside”.

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, says the Heathrow security staff are “on poverty wages” and “unable to make ends meet”. Heathrow insists the security staff have been given a 10 per cent pay rise plus “further enhancements”.

Talks broke down last week, but fresh negotiations aimed at a last-ditch settlement will begin at Heathrow at 10am.

The strike will affect British Airways passengers from Terminal 5.

BA is cancelling 32 short-haul flights a day to reduce pressure on the security search area and has also stopped selling outbound tickets for the same reason.

The only airline affected is British Airways from Terminal 5; anyone flying from another terminal should fly as normal.

Heathrow airport is telling passengers to turn up no earlier than two hours before European flights, or three hours before intercontinental flights.

On Monday 3 April, 1,000 workers at HM Passport Office are due to start a five-week strike.