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EU air traffic plan prompts strikes across Europe

Passengers wait for a flight at Marseille-Provence Airport, in Marignane, southern France, Tuesday, June 11, 2013, as 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 to protest against a plan to centralize control of Europe's air space. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

PARIS (AP) -- The European Union's plans to speed up the consolidation of its airspace are prompting a continentwide strike of air traffic controllers.

Controllers say the plan is unsafe for passengers and could cost jobs. The EU, meanwhile, says having separate national air control systems is costly and inefficient, adding an average of 42 kilometers (26 miles) to each flight.

The plans, announced by the EU on Tuesday, would speed up a process in the works for more than a decade to pull together the bloc's 27 different air traffic control systems.

In France, workers kicked off the strike on Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of 1,800 flights — about half of the timetable in major cities.

The main union says workers in 11 countries will take part beginning Tuesday evening.