Travelers flying to and from the French capital Paris in January and February 2024 should prepare for disruption.
Thousands of flights will be canceled due to a comprehensive technical modernization of the French air traffic control systems.
The ambitious upgrade of the air traffic control systems has been years in the making. The extensive upgrades are planned from January 9 to February 14 – with further disruption expected after the Olympics.
This will affect four major airports around Paris, including Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Le Bourget and Beauvais.
The system aims to improve air traffic management and efficiency.
Air France forced to cancel more than 4000 flights
However, the transition to the new air traffic control systems has significant costs: airlines are asked to reduce the number of flights during the test phases.
Every year more than 2.5 million flights pass through French airspace and any delay can affect air travel across Europe.
The airlines that operate flights departing from and arriving at one of the above-mentioned four French airports have to cancel about 20 percent of their flights.
This reduction will lead to the cancellation of around 16,500 flights. Air France alone is responsible for 4,379 of these flights.
Although airlines are not legally required to cancel their flights, they are encouraged to do so for the sake of collective harmony.
Air France will prioritize its long-haul flights during the upgrade period. Air France has confirmed that it will have to cancel certain short and medium-haul flights during this period. The affected customers are being offered alternatives.
SAS has also been asked to reduce its flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle during the period.
“SAS has solved it by canceling one of the two daily departures between Stockholm and Paris Charles de Gaulle during that period. Oslo and Copenhagen to Charles de Gaulle are basically not affected by this,” says Tonje Sund, head of press at SAS.
European champion in flight delays
French Senator from Seine-Saint-Denis, Vincent Capo-Canellas, has been a longtime advocate of modernizing France’s air traffic control system. However, he has expressed concern over the delay in implementing this important upgrade.
“France is the European champion of delay,” he said, stressing that the country’s air traffic control system was outdated and still uses technology designed in the 1970s.
Capo-Canellas explained that the full implementation of the 4-Flight system is expected to be delayed until 2026, more than a decade after the originally planned implementation in 2015.
Despite the inconvenience caused by the six week period at the beginning of 2024, experts believe that this modernization will have significant benefits. Among other things, it will increase airport capacity and reduce delays.