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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
French strike brings travel chaos
Port of Dover
Ferry terminals were deserted in the morning, but are now open

A nationwide 24-hour strike by transport workers in France has crippled air and sea services from the UK on Tuesday.

British Airways cancelled around 90% of its French flights and trains running through the Channel Tunnel were said to be the only cross-channel services unaffected.

Ferry companies had suspended operations from Dover to Calais, but the French port reopened at 1100 BST.

A spokesman for P&O ferries said that normal services between France and the UK were resumed as soon as the port re-opened.

He added that the situation was aided by people listening to travel advice and not turning up to the port in the morning, leaving the way clear for when services started up.

Earlier, the only company sailing during the strike was Norfolkline to Dunkerque, the operations manager at Dover said.

Foot passenger numbers were well down and only a few cars were arriving at the port, he said.

The strike has been called by France's main trade unions as part of a protest against reforms to the state pension system which would force people to work longer.

Services cancelled

Eurotunnel shuttle trains as well as the London to Paris and Brussels high-speed Eurostar trains were expected to run normally.

But those who do get to France will face massive difficulties with the train network and other services.

British Airways says 110 out of 120 flights are not operating. There will be a total of just 10 services on the Heathrow-Paris and Heathrow-Nice routes.

Heathrow Airport
Many flights are cancelled

The airline said affected passengers would be offered the choice of another booking or a refund.

A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said there were no problems at any of the terminals early on Tuesday, as people had been warned about the strike.

EasyJet has cancelled 57 services, and Ryanair has cancelled 21 out of 30 flights in and out of France.

Bmi and its budget airline bmibaby are also having to cancel flights.

P&O Ferries said it was not expecting to operate Dover to Calais services from early morning to mid-afternoon.

The ferry operator said it was not accepting any day-trip passengers on Tuesday and that tickets for the affected day would be honoured on alternative dates.

The BBC's Jenny Scott
"They're furious about plans to make them work longer and contribute more to their pensions"

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