Ryanair calls for protection of EU overflights amid French ATC strikes

posted on 20th November 2023 by William Hallowell
Ryanair calls for protection of EU overflights amid French ATC strikes

Ryanair has called on the EU Commission to take urgent action to protect overflights as French air traffic control strikes take place today.

The airline said that so far this year there have been 65 days of air traffic control (ATC) strikes, forcing airlines to cancel thousands of EU overflights. Ryanair said this is “unfair” and that France and all other EU states should protect overflights during ATC strikes as they do in Spain, Italy and Greece, and cancel flights to and from the affected state.

The low-cost carrier is urging passengers to sign its petition, which now has more than 2 million signatures, urging Ursula von der Leyen to take action to “protect overflights and EU citizens’ freedom of movement during ATC strikes”.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “It is completely unacceptable that there have been 65 days of ATC strikes this year … which have caused the cancellation of thousands of flights at short notice, unfairly disrupting EU passengers’ travel plans.

“Despite repeated calls on Ursula von der Leyen to protect passengers and overflights during these air traffic control strikes, she has failed to take any action to do so. As a result, even more passengers will have their flights cancelled at short notice due to this French air traffic control strike [today] despite not even flying to or from France.

“This is because France unfairly uses minimum service laws to protect French flights while forcing cancellations on overflights from Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and the UK. We have no problem with French ATC unions exercising their right to strike, but the EU Commission should insist that cancellations due to French ATC strikes are allocated to French flights, not those overflying France en route to another unrelated EU destination.”

The spokesperson added that von der Leyen has “failed” to protect passengers and called for her resignation if she doesn’t intervene.

The strikes were prompted after France introduced new legislation last week aimed at ensuring less disruption during industrial action by French air traffic controllers. At the moment, individual air traffic controllers planning to strike are not required to alert their superiors, although unions must issue industrial action notices in advance.

Under the new law, which was approved at the Assemblée nationale on Wednesday, air traffic controllers intending to join a strike are required to inform their bosses at least 48 hours in advance.

ARGS has contacted the EU Commission for comment.

Image credit(s): Left: CNBC Televison, Right: EU Commission (screengrabs)