British tourists were facing travel misery today after airline operators cancelled, re-scheduled or re-routed flights because of planned strike action by French air traffic controllers.
British Airways announced it will ground a total of 62 flights to and from Gatwick and Heathrow just before and during the 32-hour strike, which begins at 8pm tomorrow.
A further 12 return services operated by BA’s CitiExpress from UK regional airports have also been cancelled.
A BA spokesman warned that although 19 flights from Heathrow remain unaffected they could also be hit by the strike with further delays due to re-routing a possibility.
Buzz announced that up to 60 flights could be affected and flights to the rest of Europe may be delayed due to re-routing.
The airline operates from London Stansted and
Bournemouth to 15 destinations in France including Paris, Caen and Marseilles.
A spokeswoman said the airline would be advising customers tomorrow after speaking to French air traffic control.
She said: “We are waiting to hear which airlines will be able to operate in and out of France.
“We don’t know if it will be a complete ban yet but we are expecting some cancellations.
“We are advising people to call us or check the website around lunchtime tomorrow.
“Our policy is that if we can’t operate, then we issue a full refund and our customers can re-book with us.”
Go said it would be re-scheduling its four daily flights to Nice and Lyon.
Staff have been told to contact as many passengers as possible to inform them of the changes.
A spokesman said: “We will talk to people and try to be as flexible as possible.
“For those who want to fly, we will do our utmost to get them there.”
Easyjet said it had no current plans to cancel flights to and from Nice, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon.
“We are not cancelling flights at the moment because it’s difficult for us to know how the strike will affect us and to what degree,” a spokeswoman said.
“We are advising customers to prepare to travel as normal but they should check the website for further information.
“If there is any disruption to services then we will do all we can to accommodate people’s needs and transfer them to other flights if necessary.”
The disruptions come as French truckers prepare to set up road blockades from 10pm tonight in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Ports are bound to be targeted by the action – hitting cross-Channel ferry passengers and UK hauliers.
Geoff Dossetter, of the UK’s Freight Transport Association, said he was particularly concerned about the prospect of a blockade at Calais.
“Some 5,000 lorries cross from Europe to the UK each day, with a similar number going in the opposite direction,” he said.
“If the action results in a blockade or hold-ups in Calais then there is likely to be a knock-on effect in the UK with lorries delayed at Dover and on the M20.”
The British freight transport industry was severely hit by lengthy action by French transport workers in both 1996 and 1997.
There were numerous roadblocks set up around France and some UK lorry drivers were stranded for days at a time.