PARIS, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A strike by Air France pilots canceled over half the airline's flights, with schedule disruptions felt across France.
Nearly half the approximately 500 Air France flights from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport were canceled Monday, as were 80 percent of flights in the city of Toulouse and 70 percent in Marseilles, Nice and Lyon. The airline expected the situation to worsen Tuesday.
The strike is over plans by Air France-KLM, the Air France parent group, to expand its Transavia airline specializing in low-cost flights. To pilots, the move means renegotiated contracts with lower pay and longer hours. The major pilots' union has called for a weeklong strike.
Air France-KLM Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac asked pilots to return to work, saying, "I hope that reason prevails." The airline said any day in which half its flights were cancelled would cost it between 10 and 15 million euros ($13 to 19 million) per day.
Passengers were furious when they were stuck in airports without connecting flights. One, Jean-Marc Ragot, who arrived in Paris from Nairobi, Kenya, to discover his connecting flight to Lyon was cancelled, said, "I can't return home, thanks! I've had it up to here with strikes in France. One always has a problem when one returns home."