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Holidays finally take off as air strike ends

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Rachael Meehan, Olivia Loughlin and Lola Goulding. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Rachael Meehan, Olivia Loughlin and Lola Goulding. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Rachael Meehan, Olivia Loughlin and Lola Goulding. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

THERE was relief for holidaymakers today as French air controllers called off their strike.

Thousands were left in limbo yesterday as the fallout from the action spread across Europe to Irish airports.

Some passengers in Dublin Airport had been on their planes for more than an hour waiting for take-off when they were told their flights had been cancelled.

Long queues of travellers who had to reclaim their baggage were then looking at abandoning their holidays.

The strike by French controllers began on Tuesday in opposition to European Union plans to centralise air-traffic controls.

France's main controllers' union claimed the EU plans are "a direct attack on the public service nature of this sector" and a step towards privatisation.

The IMPACT union, which represents air-traffic controllers in Ireland, has said its members support their French colleagues' action but cannot strike due to legal restraints.

 

Distraught

Several flights, mostly on Ryanair, were cancelled at Dublin Airport yesterday, and, although the airline was offering a full refund, passengers were distraught at having their holiday plans ruined.

Ryanair said a total of 28 of its Irish flights had been affected yesterday.

An Aer Lingus flight to Paris was delayed for two hours.

Flights were getting back to normal today after the strike was suspended late last night.

However, just as the air-traffic controllers returned to work, French rail workers began walking off the job in protest over a reorganisation of national train companies.

The action began last night and will end tomorrow morning. Up to 70pc of train journeys will be cancelled today.

A transport spokesperson at the European Commission, Helen Kearns, said the right to strike was well established in the EU, but the stoppage was having a huge impact on people.

"The right to strike has to be balanced with a certain level of responsibility," she added.

She was responding to a call by Ryanair that air-traffic-control stoppages in the EU should be made illegal.

Yesterday was supposed to be the beginning of a dream holiday for 20-year-old Dubliners Rachel Meehan, Olivia Loughlin and Lola Golding.

The trio had booked a trip to Magaluf in Spain via a Ryanair flight to Palma.

"But we found out 40 minutes before take-off that the flight was cancelled. We're devastated," Lola, from Swords, told the Herald.

"We had our bags checked in, and then we had to take them back and try to sort out what we were going to do, but it looks like we might only get a flight now on Saturday evening and miss three days of our holiday," she added.

Standing in a long queue in Departures, they had more questions than answers.

"How can air traffic controllers get away with this?" asked Rachel, from Portmarnock.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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