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Strike over EU plan disrupts European flights

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm •  Published: June 12, 2013

PARIS (AP) — A strike by air traffic controllers forced cancellations of more than 60 percent of flights around France and disrupted travel elsewhere in Europe on Wednesday, as workers protested a plan to simplify the continent's patchwork airspace.

Over 2,000 flights were canceled in France as more workers joined the second day of the strike, according to the civil aviation authority. The walkout started Tuesday and is scheduled to end by Thursday.

The umbrella union for air traffic controllers said 11 countries would take part. The biggest walkout was in France, but it had a ripple effect on other European countries.

Britain saw delays primarily related to the French strike — easyJet canceled 66 flights going to France or passing through its airspace. Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest, said that roughly two-thirds of its 66 daily flights to and from France had been canceled.

Air traffic controllers are upset at an EU plan to consolidate the patchwork of air traffic control systems across the 27-country bloc under one authority. The plan wants to open up more duties to private enterprise, allow bidding on services like weather forecasting and navigation, and ease what European officials say is a looming capacity crunch.

The unions fear the plan will threaten jobs and passenger safety, and claim the EU is yielding to industry pressure to cut costs. They say it would hand more air traffic services to private companies.

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