24 June 2014 at 08.37 GMT
Airline passengers could face hours of delays this week as a six-day French air traffic control strike began today, prompting Ryanair to demand the French government outlaws such action.
The delays could potentially affect all flights crossing French airspace, but the majority of service from the UK to France will continue to run.
European air safety organization Eurocontrol estimated the action would cause almost 14,000 hours of delays, according to the Guardian.
Ryanair has cancelled 26 flights to and from France, none of which are to or from the UK.
The Irish carrier called on the EU Commission to remove the right to strike from Europe’s air traffic controllers, who it claimed are “once more attempting to blackmail ordinary consumers with strikes”, and urged the French government and the EU to intervene to prevent further cancellations and delays.
Ryanair said alternatively, the EU should open up the skies over Europe and allow neighbouring Air Traffic Control providers such as the Irish, British, German or Belgian to keep the skies over France open while French workers go on strike every summer.
The airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “Ryanair regrets that we have had to cancel 26 flights on Tuesday as a result of these unwarranted strikes by French air traffic controllers, who have deliberately initiated industrial action at the busiest time of the year in order to cause maximum chaos.
“Ordinary people who work hard all year to take a well-earned holiday have had their travel plans disrupted through no fault of theirs, or of Ryanair’s, because of the selfish actions of so few.
“It is high time the EU Commission removed these air traffic controllers’ right to strike, in the same way as ATC in the US, and many of Europe’s armies and police forces, are prohibited from striking by law, to stop Europe being held to ransom by a small number of air traffic controllers every summer.
“We sincerely apologise to affected customers and while Ryanair intends to operate our schedule as normal from Tuesday, passengers should be aware that delays and further cancellations are likely, and we would urge them to log on to ryanair.com for the latest flight information before leaving for the airport.”
EasyJet has cancelled 20% of its services and British Airways has cancelled three return flights from Heathrow to Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille. All three airlines are likely to make decisions each day about further cancellations.
A similar walkout last year caused 1,800 flights cancelled a day across Europe, according to the Guardian.
A BA spokesman said: “We have been forced to cancel a small number of flights on Tuesday and are expecting knock-on delays to some other short-haul services.
“We will look to use larger aircraft where we can to help affected customers on cancelled flights so they can rebook free of charge to alternative flights. We would urge customers to keep checking our website during the week.”
French air traffic controllers are striking against feared cuts under an EU plan to create a single European airspace.
Sourced from Travel Weekly