OSLO – Irish low-cost airline (LCC) Ryanair has called on the governments of the UK, Ireland, Italy and Spain to take measures to protect overflights in French airspace if French ATC goes on strike.
Help avoid delays and cancellations
On September 29, Ryanair issued a statement calling on governments in countries including Italy, Spain and the UK to take action to protect their citizens and overflights in or out of their country of origin.
This is to prevent thousands of flights of Italian, Spanish, Irish and British citizens being canceled due to the ongoing Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) strikes in France which, despite false promises by the French, have caused significant disruption to flights to and from these countries.
Ryanair recently criticized the French government for applying minimum service laws to protect French citizens as well as French flights. This has resulted in significant disruption, cancellations and delays for thousands of travelers destined for Ireland, Spain, Italy and the UK who have a scheduled route through French airspace.
In the face of repeated failed attempts by the EU Commission to protect the single market for air travel in Europe, Ryanair now sees reason to call on these governments to protect their citizens and their flight schedules to prevent them being “hijacked” by ATC unions become France, which closes the sky over the land.
Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RyanairCommenting on the call, said: “We are fed up with these repeated flight disruptions and cancellations caused by tiny French ATC unions and the French government’s policy of using minimal services to protect French flights for French citizens and at the same time disrupting thousands of flights flights over France for thousands of EU citizens not traveling to/from France.”
“The European Commission, under Ursula von der Leyen, continues to stand by while Europe’s single market for air travel continues to be destroyed by these tiny French ATC unions, and when the European Commission does not act to protect its citizens, the national one does government must intervene”
The ATC strike
Just two weeks ago, French Air Traffic Control (ATC) staff went on strike over pay and hiring conditions, prompting mass cancellations on thousands of scheduled flights.
On the day the strike began, Ryanair itself was forced to cancel 420 scheduled flights, affecting around 80,000 travelers, about which they later explained:
“Ryanair regrets that this unjustified French ATC strike has forced it to cancel 420 flights (disrupting 80,000 passengers) mainly over France on Friday, with no effect other than disrupting weekend travel plans for thousands of European citizens/visitors. “
early September, the Union SNCTA (National Syndicat of Traffic Controllers)issued a statement on the strike, stating: “After several months of discussions, despite the remaining 14 days to vote on this strike notice, no concrete element or guarantee has been provided by the DGAC and the authorities.”
“While it is undeniable that the pension wall is approaching and is to be expected, the lack of a hiring guarantee for 2023 and beyond is unacceptable.”
“While the income is there because inflation compensation is included in the European benefit plans, there is no justification for not getting a pay rise.”
“In the face of the failure of the negotiations, the SNCTA maintains the cancellation of the strike on Friday, September 16 and calls for a general mobilization.”
Ryanair is really sending out a cry for help to maintain stable operations and avoid delays and cancellations, something governments are hoped to take into account.
As the French ATC strike has already left a significant mark on operations, not only at Ryanair but also at other airlines, this is an issue that should be considered with high priority in order to find a solution that avoids further disruption to flight operations .