DALLAS – On the 38th day of French ATC strikes in just three months, Ryanair (FR) has criticized the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for her “inexcusable failure to protect EU citizens/visitors’ fundamental right to the Freedom of Movement” by permitting repeated closures of EU skies during the strikes.
More than 627,000 FR passengers’ flights were canceled due to the strikes in the first three months of 2023 alone, “disrupting travel plans, diminishing essential intra-European connectivity and damaging tourism.”
Ryanair has suggested the following measures to protect passengers without infringing on the right of French ATC unions to strike:
- Implement minimum service laws to protect French overflights during ATC strikes, as done in Greece, Italy, and Spain.
- Allow other European ATCs to manage flights over France during French ATC strikes.
- Mandate that French ATC associations engage in compulsory arbitration before calling for strikes.
- Demand advanced notification of strike participation.
In the midst of French ATC strikes, French unions are exercising their right to strike, but the airline says this should not result in the closure of the entire upper French airspace.
In contrast, ATC unions in Spain, Italy, and Greece avoid such closures by protecting overflights. It is unfair that internal French flights are protected under Min. Services Legislation, but EU citizens/visitors’ overflights from other EU countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK, and Ireland are canceled, stated FR.
FR is urging EU passengers to sign the ‘Keep EU Skies Open’ petition and demands that the EU Commission and President von der Leyen take immediate action to defend their rights as EU citizens.
To achieve this, the EU should consider measures such as protecting French overflights during ATC strikes (using min services laws), allowing other European ATCs to manage flights over France, mandating that French ATC unions engage in binding arbitration before calling off strikes and mandating advanced notification of strike participation.
An FR spokesperson said, “French ATC strikes caused thousands of EU passengers to have their flights canceled at a short notification for the 38th day in just three months. While FR doesn’t object to French unions exercising their right to strike, it expects President von der Leyen to protect EU citizens’ fundamental right to the Freedom of Movement.”
The FR spokesperson argued that the “French administration could use Min. Services Legislation to protect internal French flights but still force the cancellation of flights over France, which is disproportionate and unfair.”
What do you think about FR’s claim, and has the French ATC strike affected you in any way? Let us know in the comments on our social media channels.
Feature Image: Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways