Ryanair cancel over 300 flights across Europe

Ryanair has urged the European Union to reform its air traffic control system after being forced to cancel over 300 flights across Europe scheduled for Thursday due to a strike by French air traffic controllers. Although one of the largest unions, the SNCTA, called off its strike, the announcement came too late to prevent disruption after the French civil aviation authority requested airlines to reduce flights.

Ryanair stated that approximately 50,000 passengers would be impacted by these cancel flights, emphasizing France’s failure to safeguard overflights—where planes transit through French airspace without landing—during industrial action. Most of the affected passengers were traveling over France to destinations like Greece or Spain.

The airline’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, criticized the French air traffic controllers’ right to strike for causing disruption beyond France’s borders. He argued that strikes should only affect domestic flights, not international flights crossing through French airspace. O’Leary urged the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to enforce laws that protect overflights during air traffic control strikes. He proposed allowing controllers from other EU countries to manage flights over France during strikes and restricting unions from initiating immediate strike action.

O’Leary stated, “French air traffic controllers have the right to strike, but they should not cause disruptions to flights from other countries like Ireland to Italy or Germany to Spain.” He criticized the European Commission’s inaction over the past five years, blaming von der Leyen for not taking measures to protect the single market for air travel.

Despite the current disruption, O’Leary expressed optimism that air travelers would face fewer issues during the summer of 2024 compared to the previous two years, when labor shortages and strikes significantly impacted air travel capacity.

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