Up to 90,000 Ryanair passengers affected by French strikes

Action saw more than 3,000 flights cancelled over two days

Passengers wait for their flight at Nice International airport during a strike by French air traffic controllers. The strike has ended but many passengers remain stranded. Photograph: Reuters

Up to 90,000 Ryanair passengers have been affected by the two-day strike by French air traffic controllers, making it the biggest disruption to their flights since the 2010 volcanic ash cloud.

The strikes, which ended last night, are continuing to cause knock-on disruption for air passengers.

Large numbers of passengers remain stranded as limited industrial action by air traffic controllers in several other countries - who supported the French air traffic controllers and joined their protest - is expected today.

However, this action is likely to be limited to work-to-rules and some picketing and is not thought the disruption will be as extensive.


The action has led to more than 3,000 flights across Europe being cancelled as the strike was followed by a work-to-rule by controllers in other countries, including Portugal and Italy.

Ryanair, which has called for the right of air traffic controllers to strike to be revoked, has cancelled over 600 flights this week, including seven scheduled to depart from Dublin.

In 2010, the airline was forced to cancel almost 10,000 flights due to volcanic ash causing poor flying conditions.This affected one million passengers.

Aer Lingus cancelled four flights to and from France yesterday. Both airlines said affected passengers would either be carried on the next available flight or could apply for a refund.

CityJet cancelled 12 flights to and from France throughout the strike, with a total of 1,027 people affected.

The strike by France’s air traffic controllers was in protest at planned changes to airspace oversight across the EU.

The French aviation authority said the stoppage had had “exceptional” backing with almost 100 per cent of controllers taking part.

The European Commission wants to stop member states monitoring their own skies and says it could triple airspace capacity, cut costs and reduce delays. It has estimated that air traffic control inefficiencies add 42km to the average flight, which leads to

planes aircraft burning more fuel and generating more emissions.

The European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), which is behind the strikes, disputes this and has said the aim of the dispute was to "stop a never ending process of liberalisation, deregulation and cost-cutting in the air traffic management industry".

It claimed that the European Commission’s so-called SES2+ proposals would “jeopardise safety and the number and quality of jobs”.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor