French and Riviera News Wednesday 24th April 2024

Flights cancelled at Nice airport in air traffic control strike - Nice airport says as many as 60% of flights will be cancelled tomorrow due to a nationwide strike by air traffic controllers. The SNCTA trade union announced its intention to strike on Monday - and air traffic controllers were required yesterday to individually confirm whether they will be taking part or not. At Nice, the strike call looks set to be widely followed. Exact details of which flights are cancelled are being finalised this morning. Nice airport says if you're due to travel tomorrow, you should check with your airline beforehand. Unions are protesting about a reorganisation of air traffic control in France. Negotiations have been ongoing for more than a year.

May SNCF strike threat averted - Meanwhile, the SNCF has reached an agreement with four trade unions which should see the threat of a May rail strike withdrawn. Train drivers had threatened to call a nationwide strike over pensions and retirement rights, in what's typically the busiest month for tourism on the Riviera with the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival. The SNCF said a "real step forward" had been made.

Dental clinics suspected of fraud - Ten dental surgeries in France - including several in the Paca region - have been sanctioned by France's health insurance body for suspected fraud. The surgeries are all part of the Nobel Santé+ network of dental centres. The affected clinics will be de-registered from the French social security system in mid-May, meaning patients who continue to go there will not be reimbursed. The names of the 10 surgeries have not been made public. Authorities have filed separate criminal complaints against each of them, accusing them of billing the French health insurance system for almost €3 million worth of dental procedures that were never carried out.

Cash seized in multiple Marseille drugs raids - Police have seized luxury items, drugs, weapons and cash in a large-scale series of raids in Marseille as part of an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking. Several homes were raided in the northern districts of the city. €48,000 of cash was seized, as well as luxury goods worth €135,000, 58 kilos of cannabis resin and nearly 4 kilos of cocaine. Prosecutors said the raids were the result of more than a year of investigations. 21 people were charged with drugs-related offences and 10 were placed in pre-trial detention. The trials are due to take place at the end of May.

Côte d'Azur tourist board could be disbanded - A court ruling in Marseille means the Côte d'Azur could soon no longer have its own dedicated tourist board. The Côte d'Azur tourism body, which covers only the Alpes-Maritimes, is an exception in France. Every other part of France has one region-wide body. The Paca region withdrew three quarters of a million euros in subsidies for the Côte d'Azur tourist board in 2021. Nice mayor Christian Estrosi was among the local politicians keen to see the organisation survive and an appeal was filed. But an administrative court in Marseille has now ruled in the Paca region's favour, saying that there should, indeed, only be one regional tourism authority covering the whole region.

102-year-old Léa is new face of Monoprix - A 102-year-old woman from Villeneuve-Loubet has been hired as the new face of Monoprix supermarket. Léna was chosen to feature in the supermarket's latest TV ad campaign, which encourages French consumers to eat well. It was her great-grand-daughter who put her forward for the role because, even though she’s 102, she’s healthy and active.

BUSINESS

Shares in Spotify jumped by 14% yesterday, after it reported record high operating income of €168m in the last quarter. Spotify, which announced 1,500 job cuts at the end of last year, reported that monthly active users grew 19% year-on-year to 615 million, in the first quarter of this year Subscribers increased by 14% year-on-year to 239 million, while total revenue rose 20% compared with a year before.

P&O Ferries seafarers have been told they will benefit from new French legislation that could double their pay, in what appears to be a significant U-turn by the controversial ferry operator. The move comes more than two years after P&O enraged the UK and French governments by sacking 786 workers and then taking advantage of a legal loophole to hire replacements on pay rates of below the minimum wage. London and Paris responded to the sackings by announcing new legislation, with France implementing fresh regulations last month requiring ferry operators to pay their crew at least the French minimum wage of €11 per hour and limiting seafarers’ time onboard ships to two weeks. The French rules will come into effect after a three-month implementation period, while a similar UK law – requiring ferry operators to pay the UK minimum wage of £11.44 an hour – is expected to come into force this summer.

SPORT

Formula One - A proposal to expand F1's points positions for 2025 is on the agenda for initial discussion between the sport's stakeholders this week. The proposal has been put forward for the points positions to go down to 12th place instead of 10th. F1's existing 1st-10th points structure has been in place since 2010. The proposal has been put forward by one of F1's teams and is on agenda as a discussion point at the next meeting of the F1 Commission, which takes place tomorrow.

Football - Nottingham Forest will be offered the chance to privately hear VAR audio from three penalty claims in their match against Everton last Sunday. On Monday, the club called for the audio between video assistant referee Stuart Attwell and on-field official Anthony Taylor to be released publicly. Forest were furious after three penalty appeals were rejected in the 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, which kept them just a point above the Premier League relegation zone. The rulings sparked an angry post on the club's X account, where Forest said they were "considering their options" over "extremely poor" refereeing decisions.

Aquatics GB says it is "extremely concerned" after it emerged 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for a banned drug before the Tokyo Olympics but were cleared to compete. The swimmers all tested positive for heart medication trimetazidine at a training camp seven months before the delayed Games in 2021. It was determined they ingested the substance unintentionally by contamination, but the authorities involved in that decision have been heavily criticised. China's 30-member swimming team won six medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including three golds.

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