easyJet has been forced to cancel thousands of flights for this summer. | Humphrey Carter

Warnings of summer travel disruption for tens of thousands of Britons have been gathering momentum over the past few weeks because of industrial action by French air traffic controllers. On Monday, the first of a number of big blows expected to summer travel this year landed when easyJet announced that it had cancelled 1,700 flights from its Gatwick base, sparking summer holiday chaos for thousands of passengers for over 100,000 passengers.

Nearly 180,000 people have had flights cancelled at short notice, with flights in July, August and September affected. There are currently around 9,000 passengers left without an alternative route.

EasyJet says it has booked 95 per cent of passengers on replacement flights. Passengers whose flights are cancelled in this way are entitled to travel on alternative airlines with seats available - on the same day, at the expense of the airline they initially booked with.

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The airline has cited ‘unprecedented’ air traffic control delays for the disruption, saying they are three times longer than pre-pandemic levels.

What the other airlines plan to do remains to be seen, but Ryanair has already cancelled flights because of the strike action in France and has called on Brussels to sort the problems out and fast.

Europe's airspace has also been squeezed by the war in Ukraine leaving less capacity for aircraft, plus staffing issues at some air control locations and industrial action are causing bottlenecks, making on the day cancellations more likely. "We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused," easyJet said in a statement.