Ryanair calls for overflight protection during French ATC strikes

A Ryanair Boeing 737 climbs in an overcast sky.
Photo Credit: Alf van Beem, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a bid to safeguard overflights during French ATC strikes, Ryanair is urging the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, to take immediate action.

The recurring strikes by the French Air Traffic Control (ATC) have had a severe impact on air travel in 2023, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of EU overflights from various countries, while French flights remain largely unaffected.

This discrepancy has raised Ryanair’s concerns about fair treatment within the EU aviation sector.

2023 ATC Strikes Issue

As of 2023, the frequency of ATC strikes in France has soared, with a total of 64 strike days, a staggering increase compared to 2022.

These strikes have disrupted travel plans for passengers flying to or from Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and the UK, highlighting a significant issue that needs to be addressed.


Ryanair’s ‘Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open’ petition, which has garnered over 1.8 million signatures from frustrated passengers, underscores the urgency of the situation.

An air traffic controller at a computer screen.
Photo Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/gorodenkoff?mediatype=photography

These passengers demand that the EU Commission take action to ensure their freedom of movement and protect their flights during repeated ATC strikes.

Despite the massive public support, Ursula von der Leyen has yet to implement measures to shield EU passengers from last-minute cancellations caused by French ATC strikes, such as the one scheduled for Friday, 13th Oct.

Ryanair’s Call to EU Commissioner

Ryanair has now issued a statement which calls upon Ursula von der Leyen to:

1. Respect the Strike Rights of ATC Unions

  • Recognize the right of ATC unions to strike while ensuring minimal disruption for passengers.

2. Protect 100% of Flights Overflying Strike-Affected Countries

  • Ensure that flights passing over countries experiencing ATC strikes are not affected by these strikes, protecting the freedom of movement within the EU.

3. Require 21-Day Advance Notice of ATC Strikes

  • Mandate that ATC unions provide a 21-day notice of their intent to strike, allowing passengers and airlines to make necessary adjustments.

4. Require 72-Hour Advance Notice of Participation in ATC Strikes

  • Ensure that participation in ATC strikes is communicated 72 hours in advance to minimize travel disruptions.

Ryanair’s spokesperson expressed their concerns by stating, “It is disgraceful to think that French ATC is striking again this Friday, marking the 64th day of ATC strikes in 2023 alone.”

“Despite Ryanair’s persistent appeals to Ursula von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners, no action has been taken to protect EU passengers from unwarranted disruptions during these strikes.”

The spokesperson added, “We have no problem with French ATC unions exercising their right to strike, but the EU Commission should insist that cancellations due to national French strikes are allocated to French flights, not those overflying France en route to another unrelated EU destination.”


Since Ryanair initiated its ‘Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open’ petition last March, they have collected over 1.8 million passenger signatures, all demanding the same thing: protection against the disruptions caused by ATC strikes.

 However, despite these impassioned pleas, a month has passed since the delivery of these signatures to the EU Commission, and no concrete action has been taken.

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