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Pilot Strike Looms for Air France

Carol Sottili

Pilots at Air France have called for a four-day strike, scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. Friday and to end at midnight Monday, Nov. 17.

Air France, in a statement issued Thursday, said it is expecting "very significant disruptions to its operations." Cancelled flights for tomorrow (Friday) include Flight 39 from Washington Dulles to Paris, scheduled to depart at 5 p.m. (Flight 27, scheduled to depart Dulles at 10:25 p.m. Friday, has not yet been cancelled). The airline said it was working to transfer passengers to other airlines. Passengers, for example, on cancelled flight 28 departing Paris for Washington Dulles at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), were being reticketed on a Delta flight.

Air France jets may be heading from the tarmacs to the hangars. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters/File)

The airline said it is difficult to predict exactly what flights will be canceled, but "as things stand, the approximate estimation for Air France for Friday, Nov. 14 is the cancellation of half of its long-haul flights from Paris and the same for medium-haul flights. More cancellations to long-haul flights are expected as the strike progresses." The airline operates 73 daily long-haul flights, including two daily flights from Washington, and 760 medium-haul flights.

The airline said that passengers should check online or call 800-237-2747 for updates. It planned to publish a list of cancelled flights for the following day at 8 p.m. each day, although it also warned, "Air France cannot however rule out the risk of last-minute cancellations, i.e. at the time of departure."

The pilots are protesting changes to the retirement age (from 60 to 65) that are under discussion in the French Parliament.

Here's the text of a statement released Monday morning.

Today, Air France intends to operate:
* 76% of its long-haul flights,
* approximately 50% of its short and medium-haul flights,
* at least 90% of regional partner airlines' flights.

The national pilots' strike will end tonight at midnight.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 18, 100% of long-haul flights from Paris and 95% of short and medium-haul flights will operate. All passengers will be able to travel.

Air France apologizes once again to its customers for the inconvenience caused since last Friday.

By Carol Sottili |  November 13, 2008; 4:15 PM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Carol Sottili
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