Ryanair today (Mon 27th Mar) condemned the continuing cancellation of flights over France due to repeated French ATC strikes.
As always, French Minimum Service Legislation is used to protect French domestic flights, but EU overflights from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland are cancelled solely because a tiny French ATC union repeatedly closes the skies over Europe.
Over this past weekend, over 25% of Ryanair’s 9,000 scheduled flights were delayed due to French ATC disruptions, and 230 flights (41,000 passengers) were cancelled to comply with French ATC capacity restrictions.
These repeated disruptions of EU overflights are unacceptable.
Last year, Eurocontrol recommended the Commission take modest action to respond to ATC strikes (without affecting the right to strike) as follows;
- Impose ATC minimum service requirements with a clear reduction of domestic flights
- All overflights allowed with no ATC delays
- Minimum advance strike notice to allow airlines to reschedule flights or advise passengers
Sadly, to date, the EU Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen have failed to take any action on these measures to protect EU citizens and overflights.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Commission repeatedly claim that the Single Market is a priority for Europe.
“In negotiations around Brexit, the Single Market was the EU Commission’s priority.
“However, every time French ATC goes on strike, the Single Market for air travel over Europe is disrupted, yet the EU Commission sits on its hands taking no action.
“When the French Government uses Minimum Service Legislation to protect French flights, why does Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Commission stand idly by and allow EU overflights to be disproportionately cancelled on a daily basis?
“We call on the Commission to take legal action against France and its ATC unions, to protect EU overflights.
“Innocent EU passengers travelling from Germany to Spain, or from Ireland to Italy, are entitled to rely on the EU’s Single Market for air travel, and their overflights should not be repeatedly cancelled because the EU Commission fails to take action to defend the Single Market.
“Europe’s Single European Sky (SESAR) project has been a 20-year catalogue of failure.
“No progress has been made in two decades. Eurocontrol has already recommended that the Commission take legal action to protect overflights, and it is about time that Ursula von der Leyen and her Commission stopped hiding and started acting to defend the Single Market for air travel across Europe.
“We have no difficulty with French unions exercising their right to strike, but we expect the European Commission to defend and protect the Single Market, and not have it repeatedly shut down or EU overflights cancelled just because French ATC unions engage in these recreational strikes.”