Two of the biggest unions representing air traffic controllers at French airports called the strike on Thursday, promising major disruption and accusing the government of breaking its word on their sector’s budget.
There will be big support for the stoppage, the SNCTA and Unsa-ICNA unions said, predicting “a large number of cancellations and major disruption”.
The strikers are protesting at planned cuts between 2015 and 2019 that they way will endanger "necessary performance and modernisation needed to ensure an efficient air navigation service in France".
The cuts arise from the European Union’s Single Sky Europe plan to reduce air navigation costs by organising airspace into functional blocks, according to traffic flows rather than national borders.
The European Commission wants to reduce payments by airlines and the French government had agreed to reduce one category while raising another.
The unions believe that the plan is part of an “ultra-liberal” policy that favours “forced low-cost” air traffic.
They accuse Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier of breaking a promise to guarantee continued financing that led them to call off a strike in January.
According to French law, air traffic controllers can be obliged to provide enough workers to guarantee 50 per cent of flights.