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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK
Strikes threaten travel chaos
Delayed customers mill around Heathrow airport
Air travellers are facing a miserable few days
Tens of thousands of Britons are facing travel chaos when a series of air industry strikes get under way across Europe.

Air traffic controllers in France will hold a 12-hour stoppage on Wednesday, and workers in Italy, Greece and Portugal are threatening to take simultaneous action.

The strike coincides with a general strike in Spain on Thursday that will further affect travellers.


The problem is, nobody is quite sure how bad an effect the strike will have on travel

ABTA spokesman

British Airways is cancelling 122 of its usual 126 flights to France on Wednesday, leaving up to 15,000 people having to make other arrangements.

It is feared a further 80,000 Britons will be affected by the 24-hour strike in Spain which is expected to severely disrupt flights to and from the country and its sunshine islands.

The air traffic controllers are protesting at a restructuring of air traffic control across European airspace.

'Unclear'

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said: "It's clear there will be delays and clients have been informed of the problem.

"The problem is, nobody is quite sure how bad an effect the strike will have on travel.

"The Spanish Government has talked about basic services being maintained, but it's unclear exactly what this will mean."

ABTA recommends travellers be aware and plan ahead and contact tour operators to check on times of flights.

Drawing board

BA say passengers affected by the French strike will be automatically booked on the next available flight, or be given flight vouchers.

Earlier this month, UK air traffic controllers belonging to the Prospect union rejected a pay deal which has forced bosses and union workers back to the drawing board with talks to avert a strike.

Workers had spoken of "growing dissatisfaction" within the industry.

Union members are meeting on Tuesday to discuss their next step, as the Daily Express reports they are planning strike action in August.

The meeting comes as it emerges pilots working for some low-cost airlines have been accused of flouting instructions from air traffic controllers because of pressure to meet tight deadlines.

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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