Irish airline passengers set to be affected by air traffic control strike this weekend 1 month ago

Irish airline passengers set to be affected by air traffic control strike this weekend

Ryanair has warned the EU that it must take action against air traffic controllers striking in France.

Thousands of passengers are set to be affected by the latest in a series of strike by air traffic controllers in France on Saturday and Sunday of this weekend.

Ryanair has called for urgent action by the EU Commission and European Governments to arrest the alarming deterioration in Europe’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) services during the months of May and June and to prevent strike action of ATC services this summer.

ATC strikes in France have been a common occurrence of late, with airlines and flights from a number of countries, including Ireland, affected as a result.

In the month of May, over 117,000 flights were delayed, with 61% of the delays caused by ATC staff shortages and strikes. As well as this, over 56,000 flights were delayed for more than 15 minutes, a fourfold increase on the 14,000 flights delayed more than 15 minutes in May 2017.

The EU target delay for 2018 is an average of 0.5 minutes per flight. However, the current forecast for 2018 is now heading towards 1.5 minutes per flight, nearly treble the EU target.

Ryanair was forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights in May alone, almost all due to ATC staff shortages and strikes. This was 24 times the amount of flights cancelled in May of the previous year.

EasyJet also saw 974 of its flights cancelled during the month of May.

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Last month, IAG CEO Willie Walsh said: “The thing most impacted is ATC strikes and the ongoing ATC environment, which is a mess. It is destroying traffic throughout Europe. We thought it would get better in 2018 but it’s getting worse”.

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has spoken out on multiple occasions about the recent ATC disruptions. At the company's media briefing on Thursday morning, he said: “Yet again this weekend, French ATC will strike on Saturday and Sunday leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled, disrupting the holiday plans of thousands of passengers.

"Many of these flights don’t even touch France, yet they will be disruptive because French ATC requires airlines to cancel overflights while they protect French domestic routes. Europe’s airlines are also suffering thousands of ATC delays/cancellations because of staff shortages especially in German and UK ATC providers."

"These disruptions are unacceptable, and we call on the UK and German Governments, and the EU Commission to take urgent and decisive action to ensure that ATC providers are fully staffed and that overflights are not affected when national strikes take place, as they repeatedly do in France," O'Leary added.

"Europe’s ATC providers are approaching the point of meltdown with hundreds of flights being cancelled daily simply because they don’t have enough staff to deal with them. The situation is particularly acute at weekends where British and German ATC providers are hiding behind adverse weather and euphemisms such as “capacity restrictions” when the truth is they are not rostering enough ATC staff to cater for the number of flights that are scheduled to operate.

"Urgent action must now be taken by the UK and German Governments, and the EU Commission, otherwise thousands more flights and millions of passengers will be disrupted, particularly in the peak months of July and August, unless this ATC staffing crisis is addressed."