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French air traffic controller strike to disrupt flights for 6 days total

PARIS -- Airlines were forced to cancel flights to and from Paris's main airports and several cities in southern France Tuesday as air traffic controllers kicked off a six-day strike.

The work stoppage comes at the height of the tourist season in a nation that attracts more foreign visitors than any other country in the world, and follows a rail protest that affected services abroad and domestically and is still continuing in some areas.

The country's civil aviation watchdog said around 20 percent of flights going to and from several big cities in southern France, as well as those taking off from Paris to the south, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, were cancelled.

Not all air traffic controllers are striking, but those stopping work are protesting against what they say is a lack of sufficient funding allocated for their sector, which they say is in dire need of modernization.

They want airport fees for airlines to increase by 10 percent, companies want them to go down, and the government is caught in between.

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