Due to the French ATC strikes, Ryanair has been required to cancel more flights, yet again. Thousands are left stranded with no way to get to where they need to as fewer employees come in to work as the weekend draws to a close.
Ryanair Holding Plc's main gateway to Paris was forced into utter chaos on Thursday due to a strike by air-traffic controllers, forcing one of Europe’s largest low-cost carriers to cancel all flights at the Paris-Beauvais airport.
The Irish carrier scrapped approximately 130 flights, according to a spokesperson. All other flights at the airport have been called off as well. Ryanair has released a statement regarding the strike, which began in May in an event known as the “May Day Chaos.”
The statement contained an apology from Ryanair and directions for all affected passengers for the strike which is "entirely outside of Ryanair's control."
The strike has affected not just airports within France, but also any flight passing through the airspace. This latest strike marks the 60th day of striking in the country in protest of plans by French President Emmanuel Macron to raise the national retirement age from 62 to 64.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary previously stated that while he accepts the rights of French workers to strike rising retirement ages, he believes it shouldn't affect flights traveling through the airspace, but don’t land at an airport, otherwise known as overflights.
O'Leary stated, "France is using minimum service legislation to protect its local French flights. But all the cancellations are then being disproportionately being passed on to English flights, Irish flights, Italian flights, Spanish flights, German flights.
"This is unfair, When there are air traffic control strikes in Italy, they protect overflights. In Greece they protect overflights. France must be required by the EU commission to protect overflights.
"It is unfair that flights from the UK to Spain or from Italy to Portugal are being cancelled simply because a bunch of French air traffic control units want to go on strike. We respect their right to strike, but if they want to strike, cancel the French flights, protect the overflights.” Ryanair is also urging passengers to sign up to Ryanair’s petition to keep European skies open.
France’s Civil Aviation Authority demanded a 50% reduction in flights at Paris-Beauvais on Thursday, expecting some employees to not show. But according to a spokesman for the authority, “zero air traffic controllers” showed up there or at Brest and Carcassonne airports.
Air traffic controllers protesting the planned labor changes could result in job cuts at smaller French airports. The Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports have been operating as planned and so far have not been affected. “Normal business will resume on Friday,” Beauvais said on its website.
Ryanair is not the only carrier affected by the strike. easyJet stated it canceled two flights at Beauvais. Budget carriers easyJet Plc and Wizz Air Holdings Plc also operate at Paris-Beauvais, located about 105 kilometers (~65 miles) north of the French capital.
Other walkouts by French air traffic controllers to protest government pension reform have led to thousands of flight cancellations since the start of the year. In turn worries about summer travel have increased, severely decreasing travel demand to France, which after weeks of protest has increased tensions.
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