Ryanair has cancelled over 300 flights on Thursday (today) due to a strike in France by the nation’s air traffic controllers (ATC). The popular low-cost carrier is demanding that the EU carry out reforms to ensure that European skies remain open to travel.

Strikes are not uncommon across the French workforce, however this latest disruption is impacting passengers who are not flying to-from France, but over French airspace towards their destinations, such as from the UK to Greece, Spain and Italy.

French law protects domestic flights, meaning French flights can continue uninterrupted, however non-French flights must be cancelled – which is what has taken place following a strike by French air traffic controllers.

Ryanair again calls on the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, to take urgent action to protect overflights, “which she has failed to do for the last 5 years”.

“EU citizens’ freedom of movement is being denied by these ATC strikes and we call on passengers to join our campaign by signing our ‘Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open’ petition, which has over 2.1m signatures from Europe’s fed up passengers,” Ryanair said in a statement.

Ryanair demands that the EU Commission take the following measures in order to protect overflights during French ATC strikes;

  • Protect French overflights by law during ATC strikes as they do in Greece, Italy and Spain
  • Allow Europe’s other ATCs to manage flights over France while French ATC are on strike
  • Mandate that French ATC unions must engage in binding arbitration before calling strikes

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said:

“French air traffic controllers are free to go on strike, that’s their right, but we should be cancelling French flights, not flights leaving Ireland, going to Italy, or flights from Germany to Spain or Scandinavia to Portugal. The European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen has failed for five years to take any action to protect overflights and the single market for air travel. We’re again calling on her to take action to protect overflights which will eliminate over 90 per cent of these flight cancellations.

“In June, we will have European elections, we encourage everyone to vote in these elections and demand your MEP and the European Commission to take action to protect overflights. We can’t have the skies over Europe repeatedly closed because French Air Traffic Controllers are going on strike.

“Protect overflights during national ATC strikes, reduce flight cancellations and disruptions and let’s have a better summer for all of Europe’s citizens and visitors.”


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