(CNN) — Hundreds of flights were canceled and thousands of passengers were forced to change plans as French airline operators staged industrial action over wages on Friday.
Europe’s largest airline Ryanair has grounded 420 of its flights in Europe due to a 24-hour strike involving connections from airports across the country. EasyJet has accused the rival carrier of massive delays and disruption.
Members of France’s Syndicat National des Contrôleurs du Trafic Aérien, or SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers in the country, began a strike starting at 6 a.m. European Central Time (00:00). 00 am ET) Friday. The disruptions are expected to continue on Monday.
The union said it is calling the action after negotiations with the government over the wage increase in line with inflation.
“After several months of negotiations to find appropriate and appropriate answers, SNCTA … laments the lack of concrete and assurances from public authorities,” it said in a statement.
French aviation authorities have warned that up to 50% of flights could be affected by the strike.
Horacio Villalobos/Corbis News/Corbis/Getty Images
Paris Aéroport, which owns and operates 14 civil airports and airports in the Île-de-France (Paris) region, said on Friday it expected “significant” delays and cancellations upon arrival and departure.
A number of flights traveling over French territory were also affected. The departure board of Barcelona Airport showed more than 50 flights delayed and canceled after Friday afternoon. In Germany, Hamburg Airport said that 48 of the 251 flights of the day were canceled by noon local time and could be delayed or canceled.
Earlier in the week, France’s Director of Civil Aviation warned that up to 50% of the country’s flights could be affected and urged travelers to cancel flights and postpone travel.
The SNCTA said it could start a strike scheduled for September 28.
The chaos was expected on Monday when London’s Heathrow Airport said it would cancel or delay flights during events to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Peter Taggart contributed to this story.