Ryanair Launches Petition for Action by EU Over French Airstrikes
Budget airline Ryanair has launched a petition seeking support for the EU Commission to take action against disruption due to French airstrikes.
The Dublin-based airline is seeking one million signatures to present to the Commission in a bid to protect overflights and keep EU skies open during French Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes.
During French ATC strikes, internal flights in France continue to fly but overflights, which are planes using French airspace but not landing in France, or those taking off from the country to a destination outside France, are impacted.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Ryanair Chief Executive Eddie Wilson called on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to do something to address the issue due to the significant impact it has on travellers across Europe.
According to statistics from Ryanair, French Air Traffic Control strikes have disrupted one million passengers in 2023 to date. Mr. Wilson said that of those one million, 80% were not flying to France.
Mr. Wilson said there have been thirteen days of strikes by French air traffic controllers so far this year with a fourteenth day now scheduled as air traffic controllers join hundreds and thousands of other French workers in protest against the decision by President Macron to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64.
‘While we respect the right to strike, it is completely unacceptable that Europe’s passenger flights that overfly France are repeatedly delayed or cancelled by French ATC strikes’, he said.
He said, ‘The European Commission has done nothing about this. They need to do something about it.’
With 200 Ryanair flights having been cancelled as a result of the strikes, he said, ‘It is simply outrageous what is going on.’
He pointed to the situation in Spain, Greece and Italy where when ATC strikes occur it is internal flights that are impacted while overflights are allowed. He also drew attention to the impact of longer routes necessitated by the impact on overflights and the knock-on effect this has on the requirement for additional fuel and heightened CO2 emissions.
The solution to the issue, according to Mr. Wilson, is for the EU Commission to mandate overflights through the European air traffic control body Eurocontrol.
Ryanair will submit the petition to the EU Commission at one million signatures and demand that they take action to protect European passengers by keeping EU skies open during ATC strikes.