New call for air traffic and rail strikes: 8 France travel updates

New call for air traffic and rail strikes: 8 France travel updates

We also look at the progress of the Entry/Exit System EU border control system and an increase in US-France flights

Travel news this week includes a strike threat, the construction of biometric border terminals for Eurotunnel passengers and new flights between Nice and New York

This week we covered a French court withdrawing approval for a road a year after it was finished and a British man found to have £163,000 in his van while preparing to take a ferry who is appealing his jail sentence.

Here are more travel stories affecting France.

Rail travel updates

SNCF union threatens strikes in May

The SUD Rail union has filed a strike notice for the entire month of May – including the busy bank holidays. The union is calling for pay increases and changes to the gradual reduction in workload ahead of retirement. 

The last strike, in February, saw the cancellation of one in two TGVs during the school holiday period. 

The SNCF has said all agreements made in December 2022 during the last round of negotiations have been met. 

Negotiations between the SNCF and the unions are ongoing, and despite the month long notice, strikes are by no means inevitable – the notice means they are now a possibility.

Extra trains between Lyon and Paris this summer

Italian rail company Trenitalia is to start an extra round trip between Lyon and Paris during this summer’s Olympic Games. 

The company will run six high-speed round trip services per day between July 15 and August 11. It will serve the stations of Lyon Part-Dieu and Lyon-Perrache and arrive into Paris-Gare de Lyon. Trains will run from 07:30 to 20:00 in the Paris-Lyon direction and from 06.46 to 19.24 in the direction of Lyon to Paris. 

Read more: Meet woman behind voice of French train announcements for 40 years

Senate vote could pave way for fewer transport strikes 

The French Senate has adopted a bill that would allow the government to ban transport strikes during 30 days each year to avoid disruption in school holidays or during major events such as the Paris Olympics. 

The bill, brought by the Centrists in the Senate, would also increase the minimum service that transport companies would have to provide. 

The government does not support the bill, and it must be approved by the National Assembly before becoming law. 

The proposal was initially met with great concern from unions representing pilots and cabin crew at Air France, who planned to strike in response to the bill on April 15 and 16. However, they withdrew their opposition after the Senate clarified that the bill does not concern air transport.

Navigo pass will soon be available on iPhones

The Navigo pass, used for transport in Paris and the wider Île-de-France, will be available on iPhones from the end of May, after a years’ long wait for Apple users. 

Travellers will be able to tap their phone at turnstiles rather than use the Navigo card. 

Owners of other smartphones have been able to use their phones as a Navigo pass since 2022. 

Read more: SEE: which Olympic events are near you (not all are in Paris)

Air travel updates 

Air traffic controllers threaten strike on April 25 

Two major air traffic controllers’ unions have signed a strike notice for Thursday April 25, with the potential to cause numerous delays and flight cancellations, Les Echos reports. 

The unions have been in talks for 15 months with the French civil aviation authority, the DGAC, about plans to overhaul the air traffic control system in France. 

In September 2023, the unions had agreed to observe an ‘Olympic truce’ on strikes up to September 2024.

However, in a statement the unions said that the DGAC has “performed an about-face on the progress made over the past year.”

A new round of negotiations will begin, with both sides hoping to reach a deal within 15 days to prevent the strike from going ahead. 

EasyJet to resume flights from Lyon to Budapest 

Low-cost carrier easyJet is to resume flights from Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport to the Hungarian capital of Budapest. It will start the twice-weekly flights from August 21, 2024. 

Flights to North America 

United Airlines has launched its seasonal service between Nice Airport and Newark Airport (New Jersey) a month early. Flights began on March 31 and will run until October 26. 

Bordeaux-Montreal flights resume 

This year, Air Transat will offer up to six flights a week between Bordeaux and Montreal.

Air Transat will resume flights between Bordeaux Airport and Montreal in Canada from May 2, putting on 15% more flights, Sud Ouest reports. The number of passengers flying the route increased by 42% in 2023 compared to 2022, the Canadian airline said. 

Ferry travel updates 

Biometric border terminals are being installed ahead of October rollout 

The installation of biometric border terminals in Coquelles, near Calais, has begun, with work expected to be completed by May, Kent Online reports. The terminals in Folkstone are set to be installed by July. 

Read more: Key step completed for France-UK travel and new EU border controls 

They will be used for new border checks on both sides of the Eurotunnel. The new Entry/Exit System requires all non-EU nationals entering the EU to give their fingerprints and facial imaging. 

The new rules are expected to come into force in autumn, however the exact date is still unclear. An October 6 start for the EES has been widely reported, however the Union of French Airports (UAF) told The Connexion in March that they have been told to plan for a November 6 start date.

Read more: How will new border checks affect British residents of France?

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