Thousands of British travellers to Spain, Switzerland and Italy have had their flights cancelled on the first day of a national strike in France.
Air-traffic controllers, transport workers and millions of other workers are walking out in protest against President Macron’s plans for pension reform.
The French aviation authority, the DGAC, has ordered airlines flying to, from or over France to cancel a proportion of flights.
From Gatwick, easyJet has cancelled multiple flights to Milan and Geneva, as well as links to Barcelona, Malaga and Murcia.
Britain’s biggest budget airline has grounded 20 flights to and from Gatwick, its biggest base – with a further 233 cancellations elsewhere on the network.
At least 40,000 easyJet passengers have been affected.
British Airways has cancelled more than 30 flights on Thursday between Heathrow and destinations in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland.
Six BA flights to and from Paris, and four each serving Nice, Geneva, Barcelona and Madrid have been grounded. Round-trips to Basel, Brussels, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse are also cancelled.
From Stansted, Ryanair has cancelled flights to and from Bergerac, Nantes, Nice, Poitiers and Toulouse, as well as a return trip to Barcelona.
During the morning, Eurocontrol in Brussels warned carriers and their passengers of localised problems arising from the strike.
Biarritz airport is closed all day because there is no air-traffic control (ATC) cover. Caen, Pau and Tarbes airports will not open until later.
At Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Eurocontrol warned of a one-hour average delay for departures up to 10am local time. At Toulouse, the average delay in arrivals is two hours.
Air France, whose main hub is CDG, says it plans to operate all its long-haul flights and all but 15 per cent of medium-haul services. About one-third of domestic flights have been grounded.
The French national airline warns: “Last-minute delays and cancellations cannot be excluded.”
Passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to accommodation and meals until they can be found alternative transport – if necessary on a different carrier.
These costs, together with lost revenue, will push the cost of the strike for airlines to tens of millions of pounds.
The pressure group for the leading airline groups, Airlines for Europe (A4E), tweeted: “French national ATC strike continues to wreak havoc across the EU with hundreds of cancellations by A4E airlines.”
Eurostar has cancelled 78 trains linking London St Pancras with France, Belgium and Netherlands between 5 and 8 December. Most are to and from Paris, but some Amsterdam and Brussels services are also affected.
An estimated 50,000 international rail passengers have had to make other arrangements.
Within France, most long-distance trains have been cancelled. SNCF, the French rail operator, is encouraging travellers to use the car-sharing enterprise, BlaBlaCar.
In Paris, the Louvre museum is warning that staff shortages may affect visitors: “Due to public transport strikes, the museum may open later and some exhibition rooms may remain closed.”
There is no clarity yet over whether or when the Eiffel Tower will open.
Strike-related disruption will continue through the weekend and may affect travel next week.