Ryanair delivered a petition to the European Commission on Wednesday, supported by 1.1 million passenger signatures, for the Community Executive to force France to allow overflights through its territory, which are now being canceled in large numbers due to the controllers’ strike in that country.
After delivering the signatures at the office of the Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the CEO of the Irish airline, Michael O’Leary, told a press conference in Brussels that it is “unacceptable” that France is canceling overflights for their territory “disproportionately” because of the strike, while protecting their domestic flights using minimum service legislation.
The leading low-cost airline in Spain and in Europe by number of passengers has been unsuccessfully asking the Commission to protect the freedom of movement of Europeans and the aviation sector since the strike began at the beginning of this year, and which has been settled in these first five months of 2023 with 57 days of strikes. Now, he is taking a new step in his claims with the delivery of more than a million signatures.
O’Leary called on the EU Government to protect 100% of overflights through French airspace, as Greece, Italy and Spain are already doing in the face of strikes by their controllers. He also demands that if controller strikes require cancellations, they be assigned to domestic or short-haul flights to or from the affected state; that binding arbitration be imposed for air traffic control disputes prior to the strike; and that a notice of 21 days is required for the strike and 72 hours for the participation of the employees.
Ryanair has canceled 1,200 flights since January because of this strike, affecting 216,000 passengers, and has had delays in 17,600 flights, with 3.2 million customers who have suffered delays.
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