Paris flights cut by 20 percent as air traffic controllers strike

FRANKFURT/PARIS Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:42am EST

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FRANKFURT/PARIS (Reuters) - Travelers faced a day of disruption on Thursday as air traffic controllers in France and across Europe went on strike over cost cuts and pan-European safety rules.

France's DGAC authority asked airlines operating services to and from the three Paris-region airports - Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais - to reduce flights by about 20 percent because of the strike, which runs until 0500 GMT on Friday.

The French strike is part of a day of action called by the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) to protest against safety and savings targets planned by the European Commission.

Slovakian and Italian air traffic controllers are also striking for short periods during the day, while their colleagues in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Bulgaria and Greece will take measures such as performing only basic contracted duties.

To minimize disruption from such strikes, airlines usually shift the times of some flights and use different routes.

Air France said it would work to accommodate all long-haul flights but warned of disruption to short-haul services. Lufthansa and easyJet canceled a small number of flights.

The French traffic controllers striking on Thursday are represented by the USAC-CGT, SPAC-CFDT and SNNA-FO unions. Controllers represented by the SNCTA had called off a strike planned for this week after receiving assurances that the government would oppose the EC's plans.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Frankfurt and Sophie Louet in Paris; Editing by David Goodman)

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