Air France Pilots Ground World Cup

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PARIS: The official carrier of World Cup ‘98 ain’t carrying. A crippling pilots' strike kept Air France planes out of the skies for a third consecutive day Wednesday, even as teams and fans began pouring into the country for the world’s most popular sports tournament. The pilots -- among the world’s best-paid -- are resisting management efforts to cut the bloated airline’s payroll, and they couldn’t have chosen a more sensitive moment to launch their action.

“The strike hasn’t yet disrupted World Cup preparations, but if it goes on the situation is going to become critical -- and extremely embarrassing to France as the host nation,” says TIME correspondent Bruce Crumley. “Right now both sides look pretty intransigent.” While Air France’s logo will still appear at the games, most teams may well have traveled there on rival airlines.