Ryanair has criticised European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s failure to act on air traffic control strikes after French industrial action cost it 230 flights at the weekend.
French air traffic controllers joined other workers in the country to down tools in protest at president Emmanuel Macron’s move to increase the retirement age to 64 from 62.
The Irish group called on Ms von der Leyen and the European Commission to defend the single market for air travel across Europe during strikes.
Ryanair confirmed on Monday that the strike delayed more than 25 per cent of its 9,000 scheduled flights while it forced the Irish carrier to cancel 230 services. The airline noted that while French law protected domestic flights in the country, services through its air space to other European countries bore the brunt of the strike’s impact.
Ryanair accused the commission of “sitting on its hands” while strikes repeatedly disrupted the single market for air travel in Europe.
Last year, air navigation body Eurocontrol recommended that the commission impose air traffic control minimum service requirements in the EU that allowed overflights and reduced domestic journeys during air traffic control strikes. The organisation also called for minimum notice of strikes to allow airlines reschedule services or advise passengers.
“When the French government uses minimum service legislation to protect flights, why do Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Commission stand idly by and allow EU overflights to be disproportionately cancelled on a daily basis?” Ryanair asked.
“Innocent EU passengers travelling from Germany to Spain, or from Ireland to Italy, are entitled to rely on the EU’s single market for air travel, and their overflights should not be repeatedly cancelled because the EU Commission fails to take action to defend the single market.”
The Irish airline called on the commission to take legal action against France and its air traffic control unions to protect EU overflights.