Ryanair calls on EU to protect overflights during French ATC industrial action 

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Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, has once again called on the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, to take urgent action to protect overflights and EU citizens’ freedom of movement during the French ATC strike taking place on November 20, 2023  

The carrier has also repeated its plea for customers to join its call on the EU Commission by signing its ‘Protect Passengers: Keep EU Skies Open’ online petition. To date, over two million Ryanair passengers have done so.  

According to the airline, so far in 2023, there have been 65 days of air traffic control (ATC) strikes. That figure is over 13 times more than in 2022. This has forced airlines such as Ryanair to cancel thousands of EU overflights from Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and the UK crossing French airspace.  

France, however, employs domestic minimum service laws to protect French flights. According to Ryanair, this is a protectionist and unfair practice, arguing that France (and all other EU states) should protect overflights during ATC strikes as they do in Spain, Italy, and Greece and cancel flights to/from the affected State. 

“It is completely unacceptable that there have been 65 days of ATC strikes this year, which have caused the cancellation of thousands of flights at short notice, unfairly disrupting EU passengers’ travel plans,” said a Ryanair spokesperson. “Despite repeated calls on Ursula von der Leyen to protect passengers and overflights during these ATC strikes, she has failed to take any action to do so.” 

The airline states that as a direct result of the French ATC strike, more passengers will have their flights canceled at short notice, despite not even flying to or from French airports.  

The carrier states that while it has “no problem with French ATC unions exercising their right to strike,” the company demands that the EU Commission insists that cancellations due to French ATC strikes are allocated to French flights, not those overflying France en route to another unrelated EU destination. 

The low-cost megacarrier closes its statement on the matter by demanding that Ursula von der Leyen must immediately put a stop to EU flights overflying France during the strike being affected “or answer to the two million passengers whom she has failed to protect by offering her resignation.” 

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