Source AP ©

Corsican airline employees strike

The employees of a Corsican local airline protested Wednesday French President Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to open access to the Mediterranean island to low-cost carriers.

Flights were stopped from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, Corsica's CCM carrier said. The company said it was adding flights to its afternoon and evening schedule to accommodate affected passengers.

For years, CCM has enjoyed a state-mandated joint monopoly along with Air France, under a French law that protects the airlines from competition in return for guaranteed minimum offseason flights to routes such as these, which are not profitable year-round.

As part of his pro-business agenda, Sarkozy on Tuesday proposed revising the statute starting next year.

"I don't understand, for example, why everyone in France can find flights for €30 (US$45) on low-cost carriers, except for those in Corsica," Sarkozy told the Corsican Assembly.

In 2006, EasyJet PLC lost its bid to begin service between Paris and the Corsican city of Ajaccio, which it said it could offer at a fraction of the cost of a comparable flight on Air France.

A statement from the president's office Wednesday called for an open debate on the subject, with the goal of developing air traffic to the island and offering flights to more people at better prices.

Air France employees also took part in Wednesday's strike out of solidarity, the Corsican airline said. Air France has a 12 percent stake in CCM.

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