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France is cancelling thousands of flights in 2024

It's all because much of the air traffic control system hasn't been updated since the '70s

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

For anyone planning to fly to or from France early next year, we’ve got a bit of inconvenient news – thousands of flights from four French airports are getting cancelled. 

It’s because the air traffic control systems in Paris’s main airports are well overdue for an upgrade. Though the systems have received plenty of minor updates over the years, 2024 is the time for a huge overhaul – it’s thought that around 80 percent of the system will need to be modernised. 

Currently, workers still use an air traffic control process which was developed in the 1970s, including using paper strips to represent incoming planes. Thankfully, €1 billion is being invested into improving France’s air traffic control.

But that means there’ll be a hefty number of cancellations. According to BFM, it’s estimated that around 16,500 flights to or from Paris' Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Le Bourget and Beauvais airports won’t go ahead. 

Airlines that operate at these airports have been told to reduce their flight programme by 20 percent between January 9 and February 14. It’s during this period that the new system will be tested at Athis-Mons, France’s largest air traffic control centre.

Will your flight to France be impacted? Well, it’s up to each airline which flights won’t run, but it’s thought that long-distance routes will take priority. Air France has already cancelled some of theirs, notified passengers, and offered them same-day alternatives. 

While this could mean that travelling through Paris is a faff early next year, it’s estimated that 2.5 million flights pass through French airspace annually. With that much air traffic to control, it’d be good to have it all processed by something a bit more reliable than some pieces of paper. 

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