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50% of flights cancelled in France's main airports over strike of air traffic controllers

France's main airports have cut their flight timetables in half to cope with a three-day strike by air traffic controllers.

The Civil Aviation Authority said that some 1,800 flights were cut Tuesday in Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Beauvais, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux airports.

"(The cancellations) are for security reasons, but also to avoid airport overcrowding," says the Civil Aviation Authority's Eric Herault.

The strikes are to protest against a plan to centralize control of Europe's air space, and in reaction to a speech Tuesday in Strasbourg by the EU's commissioner for transportation, who is asking to speed up the initiative as inefficiencies in costs airlines and customers 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) annually.

Strikes are expected to spread throughout the European Union on Wednesday.