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Strike leaves air passengers stranded

Many passengers in Basel Mulhouse faced long delays as one in five flights was cancelled

(Keystone)

A strike by air traffic controllers in a number of European countries has left many passengers travelling to and from Switzerland grounded.

Travellers at Swiss airports suffered as industrial action by controllers in France, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Hungary disrupted short-haul flights over these countries.

The new national carrier, "swiss", cancelled 50 flights, mostly to and from France, while most Air France flights were also cancelled. The strike affected around 20 per cent of flights at Basel Mulhouse.

Flights in and out of France were the most seriously affected as air traffic controllers "downed tools" for the whole day, while strikes in other European countries only lasted for a few hours.

Single sky initiative

The strike coincided with a debate in the European Parliament and talks between transport ministers in Luxembourg on the "single sky" initiative, which aims to bring all air traffic controllers under unified supervision, replacing national air zones with new ones based on the busiest air corridors.

Swiss airports could see more flight cancellations throughout the summer as French unions are threatening more strikes unless the EU re-opens talks on the initiative.

Supporters say it would ease congestion and reduce passenger delays, saving billions of euros in the process. However, unions say such an initiative would damage national sovereignty and could be the first step toward privatisation.

Zurich's Kloten airport has announced that 25 flights scheduled for Thursday have already been cancelled. "swiss" added that it had cancelled 12 of its 26 planned flights to Spain on Thursday because of a general strike called in the country.

swissinfo with agencies


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