Ryanair calls on governments to take action in protecting overflights when French ATC strikes

A man waits in the passenger terminal for a flight.
Photo Credit: JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

OSLO – Irish Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Ryanair has called on UK, Irish, Italian and Spanish governments to take action in protecting overflights in French airspace when the French ATC are on strike.

Help in preventing delays and cancellations

On September 29th, Ryanair issued a statement, calling on governments in countries such as Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, to take action in protecting their citizens and overflights either to or from their country of origin.

This is to prevent thousands of Italian, Spanish, Irish and British citizens’ flights being cancelled due to the ongoing Air Traffic Controller (ATC) strikes in France, which despite the false promises from the French, have caused major disruptions in flights to and from these countries.

Ryanair has recently criticised the French government for using minimum service legislation to protect French citizens as well as French flights. This has been causing major disruptions as well as cancellations and delays for thousands of travellers with destinations in Ireland, Spain, Italy and the UK, which have a planned flight path through French airspace.

With the EU Commission’s repeatedly failed attempts in protecting the single market of air travel in Europe, Ryanair now see the reason to call on these governments to protect their citizens as well as their flights schedule, to avoid them being “hijacked” by ATC unions in France, who close the skies over the country.

Ryanair Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael O’Leary, said the following on the call-out: “We’re fed up with these repeated flight disruptions and cancellations caused by tiny French ATC unions, and the French Govt policy of using minimum services to protect French flights for French citizens while disrupting thousands of flights overflying France for thousands of EU citizens who are not travelling to/from France.”

“The EU Commission under Ursula von der Leyen continues to stand idly by while Europe’s single market for air travel is wrecked again and again by these tiny French ATC unions, and if the EU Commission won’t act to protect its citizens, then national Govt must intervene.”

The ATC strike

Just two weeks ago, the French Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel went on strike over pay and recruitment conditions, that led to mass cancellations on thousands of scheduled flights.

On the day the strike commenced, Ryanair itself was forced to cancel 420 scheduled flights which affected roughly 80.000 travellers, on which they later stated:

“Ryanair regrets that it is forced to cancel 420 flights (disrupting 80.000 passengers) mainly overflying France on Friday as a result of this unjustified French ATC strike, which achieve nothing but disrupt thousands of European citizens / visitors weekend travel plans.”

Earlier in September, the SNCTA union (Syndicat National des Contrôleurs du Trafic), issued a statement on the strike, saying: “After several months of discussions despite the 14 days left to reconcile this strike notice, no concrete element or guarantee has been provided by the DGAC and the public authorities.”

“While it is undeniable that the retirement wall is approaching and must be anticipated, the abscence of a guarantee on recruitment for 2023 and the following years is unacceptable.”

“While the revenue is there because the compensation for inflation is provided for in the European performance plans, the absence of a salary increase is unjistifiable.”

“Faced with the failure of the negotiations, the SNCTA maintains the strike notice on Friday, September 16th and calls for general mobilization.”


Ryanair are really sending a call for help out to maintain stable operations and avoid delays and cancellations, something that is hoped for the governments to take to consideration.

As the French ATC strike has already made significant marks in operational service, for not just Ryanair, but for other airlines, this is an issue that should be taken into consideration with high priority, with the result being a solution which will avoid further disruptions in flight operations.

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