Ryanair Cancels Over 300 Flights Amid French ATC Strikes

A line-up of Ryanair aircraft at sunset.
Photo Credit: Ryanair

Ryanair, Europe’s leading airline, announced cancellations impacting over 300 flights due to the upcoming French air traffic control (ATC) strike scheduled for Thursday, April 25th.

The airline blames France for failing to safeguard flights that simply overfly French airspace during national strikes.

Strike Impact Beyond French Borders

While the strike involves French ATC, the majority of affected passengers are not traveling to or from France.

Their flights are impacted because they must reroute around French airspace to reach their final destinations (e.g., UK to Greece, Spain, Italy).

Ryanair Calls for Change: Protecting Overflights in the EU

Ryanair argues that French law unfairly prioritizes domestic flights during strikes, leading to cancellations for non-French airlines.

They have repeatedly urged Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, to take immediate action and protect overflights, a measure they believe has been neglected for the past five years.

A Ryanair Boeing preparing for takeoff at Hamburg Airport
MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ryanair Demands Action from the EU

In a statement, Ryanair emphasized that these ATC strikes hinder the free movement of EU citizens.

They encourage passengers to support their campaign by signing the “Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open” petition, which has already garnered over 2.1 million signatures.

Proposed Solutions to Protect Overflights

Ryanair, representing its 200 million passengers, calls upon the EU Commission to implement specific measures:

  • Legally protect overflights during French ATC strikes – similar to existing practices in Greece, Italy, and Spain.
  • Enable other European ATCs to manage flights over France while French controllers are on strike.
  • Mandate binding arbitration for French ATC unions before resorting to strikes.
Ryanair Boeing 737-800
Kasevutzki, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary Comments

“French air traffic controllers have the right to strike,” said Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. “But the cancellations shouldn’t be for flights leaving Ireland for Italy, Germany to Spain, or Scandinavia to Portugal.”

“The European Commission, under Ursula von der Leyen’s leadership, has failed to act for five years to protect overflights and the single market for air travel. We urge them again to take action. This would significantly reduce flight cancellations.”

A Call to Action for European Citizens

With European elections approaching in June, Ryanair encourages everyone to vote and demand that their MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) and the EU Commission take action to safeguard overflights.

“We cannot allow repeated closures of European skies due to French ATC strikes,” O’Leary concluded.

“Let’s protect overflights during strikes, minimize disruptions, and ensure a smoother summer for all European citizens and visitors.”

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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