More than 40 flights to and from Irish airports cancelled due to French strikes

Ryanair says industrial action by French air traffic controllers will hit 50,000 passengers

A French air traffic control strike has forced Ryanair to cancel 300 flights on Thursday, hitting 50,000 passengers.

A pay row between French air traffic controllers’ unions and their employer, DGAC, the civil aviation authority, will disrupt European travel on Thursday.

As of Wednesday night, more than 40 flights due to arrive at or depart from Irish airports were cancelled ahead of the planned French strikes.

Those include 38 cancelled flights displaying as cancelled at Dublin Airport, all of which were due to travel to or from French destinations with the exception of Ryanair flights to and from Basel, Switzerland, which is close to the country’s border with France.


A Ryanair spokesperson said the strikes are also expected to cause knock-on delays to non-cancelled flights.

Some 23 of the cancelled Dublin Airport flights are departures, the majority of which are Ryanair flights, though some Aer Lingus, Vueling Airlines, Air France and Transavia France flights have also been cancelled.

Impacted destinations include Paris, Carcassonne, La Rochelle, Nice, Toulouse, Biarritz, Lourdes, Marseille, Nantes and Bordeaux.

A further 15 flights due to arrive at Dublin Airport from the above locations on Thursday have also been cancelled.

Two Air France flights at Cork Airport have also been cancelled as well as one Aer Lingus departure from Shannon Airport as of Wednesday night.

Ryanair confirmed on Wednesday that the industrial action had forced it to cancel 300 flights, hitting around 50,000 passengers due to travel with the Irish airline.

A statement from chief executive Michael O’Leary indicated that services from Ireland to Italy, along with those taking off for southern Europe from Germany and Scandinavia, would be affected.

The airline did not outline specifically which services it would have to cancel as a consequence of the strike.

French air traffic control strikes cause widespread disruption as many flights between other states pass through the country’s skies without landing or taking off there.

Thursday’s disruption prompted Mr O’Leary to repeat demands that the European Commission and president, Ursula von der Leyen, take action to protect flights through French airspace and eliminate 90 per cent of cancellations.

“French air traffic controllers are free to go on strike, that’s their right, but we should be cancelling French flights, not flights leaving Ireland, going to Italy, or flights from Germany to Spain or Scandinavia to Portugal,” he argued.

Mr O’Leary called on voters in June’s European elections to demand that MEPs and the commission act to protect overflights.

Greece, Italy and Spain all facilitate overflights through their skies during air traffic control strikes, but France does not, while it also protects domestic services.

Ryanair wants the commission to ensure France protects overflights during strikes and allow other European air traffic controllers to manage those services during stoppages.

Confusion surrounded the proposed French strike on Wednesday, as reports said members of the biggest air traffic control union, the SNCTA, would turn up for work after it had agreed terms with the aviation authority.

However, the position of two smaller unions was not known on Wednesday afternoon. Industry body Airlines for Europe, warned that carriers had to cancel flights by then as they did have “full clarity” on what French air traffic control capacity would be.

Ourania Georgoutsakou, the association’s managing director, said the situation illustrated “why we need an EU framework for minimising disruption from air traffic control strikes” and providing advance certainty on capacity.

Air traffic control strikes disrupted 20 million passengers last year.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Jack White

Jack White

Jack White is a reporter for The Irish Times