Ryanair has been forced to cancel 400 flights due to strikes by French air traffic controllers, the airline’s boss said, as he called on the European Union to “act”.
The mass cancellations across Europe on Tuesday – representing one of eight flights scheduled by the continent’s largest airline – are just the latest to be grounded by industry action, with Ryanair blamed airports for more than 4,000 cancellations this year.
As thousands of soon-to-be passengers saw their travel plans scuttled on Tuesday, “boiling” holidaymakers described being stranded at the airport and forced to find a place to stay. at the last minute when they expressed their disappointment on social media.
In an angry message, Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, criticized the “completely inexcusable” move to cancel flights over French airspace, and accused the authorities of responsible there “priority” domestic flights.
Air traffic controllers joined other unions as hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets across France on Tuesday to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age to 64 by two years, when Some protesters stormed the headquarters of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
While France’s civil aviation authority has ordered airlines to cancel a third of flights out of Paris-Orly, the capital’s number two airport, strikes by air traffic control have forced hundreds of flights to be canceled – because the staff who directed the plane through French airspace were out.
Ryanair has been pushing the European Commission to force France to protect flights during such a strike, last week filed a petition that Mr O’Leary said was “signed by more than 1 our ,1 million very depressed customers”.
In a video message posted to Twitter, the airline boss said: “Again today, we have had to cancel around 400 flights out of the 3,200 we were slated to operate. . All these flights were canceled because of the French ATC strike. The majority of these flights are transit and do not arrive in France.
“We respect the right of the French federation ATC to strike, but if they go on strike then domestic flights to France or local flights in France will be cancelled.
“They have alternatives – the French can take the TGV, they can take the highway. But those flying over France are having their flights unnecessarily canceled because the European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen will not act.”
Arguing that Spain, Italy and Greece had defended these excessive flights during air traffic control strikes, he added: “Today we call on the Commission to take action – protect the excessive flight.
“The fact that flights going from Ireland to Italy, from Poland to Portugal or from Spain to Germany, are canceled simply because the French want to prioritize their domestic flights and cancel all overflights. The scene is completely inexcusable.
“Let’s put an end to the scandal of families having their vacations ruined by needlessly canceled flights.”
One passenger described the cancellation of their flight as an “absolute joke”, writing on Twitter: “Now the flight has been moved from Manchester to the East Midlands with a 9 hour delay. Didn’t know what to do about the money transfer, couldn’t contact the holiday company because they were so busy and obviously no compensation – damn it.”
The mother of a 19-year-old boy with a disability said he and his friend were stuck in Paris until Thursday after their flight was canceled on Sunday, with her son carrying only enough medication and life support. hearing for the long weekend.
Describing having to “scramble from the UK” to find a new flight and accommodation for her son, she told Online email: “I’m sure I’m not the only one on this boat.
“But when you plan a long weekend away as a young man and end up with a week without extra medication, hearing aid batteries or a change of clothes, it’s worrisome. .”