Ryanair is officially and publicly expressing its frustrations over air traffic control strikes in France.

Ryanair passengers continue to be inconvenienced due to French ATC strikes. The airline is continuing to call on the European Commission to take action amid job action being taken by French air traffic control staff (ATC).

Condemnation from Ryanair

In an official statement from Ryanair seen by Simple Flying, the carrier is condemning the continuing cancelation of flights over France due to repeated French ATC strikes. The carrier highlights the fact that EU overflights from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland have been canceled “solely because a tiny French ATC union repeatedly closes the skies over Europe.”

The impact on Ryanair has been significant. The airline reports that, over the weekend, more than 25% of Ryanair’s 9,000 scheduled flights were delayed due to disruptions from French ATC. Additionally, 230 flights were canceled to comply with French ATC capacity restrictions – cancelations that affected some 41,000 passengers. “These repeated disruptions of EU overflights are unacceptable,” the airline states.

Ryanair 737s parked

Photo: Ryanair

“Innocent EU passengers traveling 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 canceled because the EU Commission fails to take action to defend the Single Market.”

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Asking for the European Commission to make changes

In 2022, Eurocontrol recommended that the European Commission (EC) take the following action to deal with ATC strikes (without affecting the right to strike):

  • Impose ATC minimum service requirements with a clear reduction of domestic flights
  • All overflights allowed with no ATC delays
  • Minimum advance strike notice to allow airlines to reschedule flights or advise passengers

Ryanair notes that the EC has thus far failed to take up these recommended measures. A spokesperson for the airline said:

“Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Commission repeatedly claim that the Single Market is a priority for Europe. In negotiations around Brexit, the Single Market was the EU Commission’s priority. However, every time French ATC goes on strike, the Single Market for air travel over Europe is disrupted, yet the EU Commission sits on its hands taking no action.”

ryanair 737

Photo: Ryanair

Ryanair is calling on the EC to take legal action against France and its ATC unions, to protect EU overflights.

The airline clarifies that it has “no difficulty” in French unions exercising their right to strike. However, it wants and expects the EC to defend and protect the EU’s single market. Instead, the airline says that inaction from the EC has resulted in EU overflights canceled “just because French ATC unions engage in these recreational strikes.”

Why are French ATC striking?

As noted by Crisis24, the ATC work stoppage is just one part of a larger series of nationwide strikes. Headed by major labor unions, activist groups, and various political parties, the job action is connected to the government’s proposed pension reforms that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Demographic data shows that a large portion of the nation’s population is due to exit the workforce (retire) in the coming years. As NPR notes, there are more and more older people in France alongside fewer workers to fund the government pension. The proposed pension reform of raising of the statutory retirement age is the main attempt to curb the mass exodus of workers.

“” data-img-url=”https://static1.simpleflyingimages.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/france_population_pyramid_-2018.jpeg” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>

France population pyramid (2018)

Its worth noting that France’s current official retirement age is lower than most other European nations. The Economist notes that the UK’s pension age is 66 while it’s 67 in Germany.

What do you think of Ryanair’s plea to the European Commission? Should the EU be taking action and implementing the Eurocontrol recommendations? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Sources: Crisis24, The Economist, NPR

  • Ryanair Boeing 737
    Photo: Ryanair


    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Low-Cost Carrier

    Dublin Airport, London Stansted Airport, Milan Bergamo Airport

    Year Founded:

    Airline Group:
    Ryanair Group

    Eddie Wilson


Source: simpleflying.com

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