French Air Traffic Control Strike Causes Hundreds of Canceled Flights

The strike may affect flights throughout the weekend.

French air traffic controllers went on strike for 24 hours starting on September 16, in response to inadequate pay and an insufficient number of workers. The strike resulted in Ryanair grounding 420 flights on Friday, while EasyJet canceled at least 76. Reuters reported that half of all flights departing from Paris airports were canceled.

The SNCTA, the primary air traffic controllers union in France, decided to strike after negotiations with management over better pay seemed to be going nowhere. Now, with the strike in place, flight cancellations and disruptions out of France could continue until Monday. But won't only be travelers in France who are affected.

CNN reports that at least 50 flights out of Barcelona have been canceled, in addition to flight routes over France being disrupted. These impending weekend travel disruptions are not likely to be immediately alleviated. Heathrow International Airport in London previously announced that it would likely be canceling or postponing flights due to Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Monday.

Europe isn't the only place in the world that is experiencing air traffic control difficulties. Air traffic control delays have been a major issue in the US as well. Staff shortages are a main contributing factor, with air traffic control-related issues causing major disruptions at airports in Long Island and Jacksonville. At other airports, like Newark International, the long wait times on the tarmac due to air traffic control issues have resulted in angry passengers and conflict. But, at least in the US, there appears to be some hope.

"I'm guardedly optimistic that the rest of this year should be good," Billy Nolen, acting director of the Federal Aviation Administration, said according to The Points Guy. “We had an overwhelming amount of interest, and so we're on track to hire at least 1,500-plus for next year," Nolen continued, in regards to hiring more air traffic controllers.

No matter which continent you are flying from, be prepared for things to be at least a little bit off-schedule. Most industry experts don't believe flying will return to pre-pandemic levels of normal until 2023. In the meantime, make sure you know how to get a refund in the event of a canceled or seriously delayed flight.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.