Europe largest airline and budget carrier, Ryanair has condemned the continued cancellation of flights over France due to constant French ATC strikes.
As far as what effect the French ATC strikes have on flights, all French domestic flights are unaffected due to French Minimum Service Legislation. However, overflights originating from the likes of Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland are being cancelled.
This is simply due to a small French ATC union that regularly closes the airspace over the country.
Flight delays and cancellations
In the latest statement issued by Ryanair, the airline reported 25% of its 9,000 scheduled flights over the past weekend were delayed due to French ATC Strikes.
Furthermore, 230 flights were completely cancelled to comply with the strike capacity restrictions, affecting some 41,000 passengers.
Commenting on the situation, a spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Ursala 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 Commissions 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.”
Ryanair isn’t the only one complaining
Ryanair hasn’t been the only one complaining about the effect of constant French ATC Strikes and how nothing is done to fix the issue.
Last year, Eurocontrol recommended the Commission to take mediocre action to tackle the ATC strikes, without affecting the right to strike.
Eurocontrol outlined the following:
- 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 or advise passengers
Despite both Ryanair and Eurocontrol expressing their frustration with the constant ATC strikes, Ursala Von Der Leyen and the EU Commission have failed to take action at all on the issue.
Of course it is worth noting that not just Ryanair isn’t the only airline affected by strikes. The French ATC strikes also cause problems for many other European airlines, however others are yet to voice their frustration on the matter.
Continuing on his comment towards the issue, the spokesperson for Ryanair added: “When the French Minimum Service Legislation is used to protect French flights, why does Ursala Von Der Leyen and the EU Commission stand idly by and allow the EU overflights to be disproportionately cancelled on a daily basis?”
“We call on the EU Commission to take legal action against France and its ATC Unions, to protect EU overflights.”
“Innocent EU passengers travelling from Germany to Spain or 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 project a “failure”
According to the spokesperson for Ryanair they claim that “Europe’s Single European Sky (SESAR) project has been a 20 year catalogue of failure”.
The spokesperson went on to say, “It is about time that Ursala Von Der Leyen and her Commission stopped hiding and started acting to defend the Single Market for air travel across Europe.”
The Ryanair spokesperson also expressed that the airline has “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”.
With this said, it almost begs the question – Will this problem ever get resolved?