A couple of months ago, EADS announced out of the blue that it was quite simply laying off 1050 workers in Sogerma, its aircraft maintenance company in Bordeaux. Despite much posturing by the PM and universal outcry in France, no buyer has yet been found and no announcement has been made. I have every sympathy with the workers, I really do, but today I am sympathizing through gritted teeth.
This morning, about 300 workers from Sogerma occupied the runway at Mérignac airport, just as the kids and I were about to go through to the departure lounge and get on a Bmibaby flight. The demonstration only lasted about an hour and we were quite quickly told the airport was operational again.
When we got the security check, however, it turned out that our flight to Manchester had, in fact, been cancelled. The incoming flight had been diverted to Toulouse, and for some reason Bmibaby wasn't bringing the aircraft back up to Bordeaux. Oh, happy day.
After a rush to the information desk, jostling to get the Bmibaby phone number, and a quick call on my mobile, I turned down a flight to Birmingham this afternoon (too far to drive) but managed to get us on tomorrow's flight to Manchester. Tears streamed down the children's faces as they realised they wouldn't be seeing Grandma this afternoon after all.
These situations really bring out the worst in some stupid people. Instead of concentrating on what the possibilities were and just getting on with it, one woman couldn't resist shrieking in English at the poor girl who was doing her best to organise people and give out the information, that this was "just typical of France." "No, Madame" said the girl, "it's not France, it's Bmibaby". "Yes, but it's your strike! It's France's fault!" I resisted the urge to slap her.
Eventually, we unchecked our luggage and got a taxi home to the house we had left a couple of hours earlier.