Air France cancels 10% of long-distance, 25% of European flights

Air France pilots join strike, garbage continues to mount

PARIS — About a quarter of Air France pilots are striking to demand better working conditions — the latest challenge to travellers and France’s image as it hosts Europe’s biggest sporting event.

French leaders had hoped to put the disruption behind them as the country turned its attention to the European Championship soccer tournament, but unions are planning to keep up the airline strike through Tuesday, demanding better pay and more flight hours.

Up to a fifth of flights are cancelled Saturday, Air France said, both domestic and international. Among those affected were flights carrying spectators to cities holding matches.

Weeks of strikes and demonstrations over the country’s disputed labour reforms and other industrial disputes have led to panic at the pumps, violent protests in the streets and, most recently, garbage rotting in the gutters.

Waste collectors have been on strike for more than a week and garbage continues to pile up around Paris, already dealing with the aftermath of flood damage. Stinky smells continue to waft over the city, but the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, vows to have the city cleaned up today. However, this could be difficult because workers continue to block access to the main waste plant.

French train drivers have also been on strike for days; France’s SNCF rail company was disrupted in the southeast, with cancellations possible. In Paris the rail link between the capital and Charles de Gaulle Airport was disrupted, with few trains running along the usually busy route.

The strikes are occurring for different reasons, but the labour unrest is tapping into nationwide discontent as the government tries to change laws regulating working hours and layoffs.

The influential CGT union, which is driving much of the action, may meet with the government over the weekend