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RYANAIR

Ryanair takes on French air traffic controllers

Budget airline Ryanair has called on members of the public across Europe to back its new campaign to stop French air traffic controllers going on strike. It comes as a planned strike in France was called off at the eleventh hour.

Ryanair takes on French air traffic controllers
Ryanair has launched a petition to try to ban strikes by air traffic controllers. Photo: AFP

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  • French air traffic control strike for July 2nd and 3rd called off

The airline, which has long called for a crackdown on strikes by controllers, has launched a petition calling for the removal of the right to strike.

Ryanair says that when a million people have signed the petition, named Keep Europe's Skies Open, it will be presented to the European Commission and used to pressure authorities into action.

As it prepared to cancel dozens of flights if Thursday’s strike had gone ahead, Ryanair also proposed that controllers from around Europe should be able to step in when the French go on strike.

In that way control centres around Europe could take over French air space and limit the disruption to passengers.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “It’s unacceptable that Europe’s consumers repeatedly have their holiday and travel plans disrupted or cancelled by the selfish actions of ATC unions every summer, who use strikes as a first weapon rather than a last resort.

“If the EU won’t listen to the airlines, perhaps they’ll listen to Europe’s citizens.” 

Across the border, Spanish air traffic controllers are set to go on strike in July.


(An air traffic controllers tower at the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport, Paris. Photo: AFP)

However on Wednesday afternoon the planned strike by the SNCTA union was called off after renewed negotiations.

It’s not the first time Ryanair has called on the EU to ban airport strikes in France.

In June last year, during another French air traffic controllers strike, furious Ryanair chief Jacobs told The Local “enough is enough.”

“French air traffic controllers are going on strike every single year. It’s time to say enough is enough.”

“We are fed up, our customers are fed up and everyone around Europe is fed up. We are calling on the EU commission to be braver and follow the example of the US and take away air traffic controllers’ right to strike across Europe.

“The controllers play a vital role and every summer they are holding passengers to ransom,” Jacobs said.

“People have worked hard all year and they see their only holiday affected by this strike. That’s not fair.

“People’s right to travel is a higher priority than the controllers' right to strike. We need to respect that this is causing travel disruption to a lot of people. Allowing such a small group such control over others is unfair,” he added.

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RYANAIR

Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid

Budget airline Ryanair urged on Wednesday that Air France be forced to give up lucrative French airport slots if it receives more state aid.

Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid
Could Air France be forced to give up airport slots if it accepts more aid from the French state? Photo: AFP

Paris is in talks with European Union officials on the delicate issue of state aid to the French flagship carrier, which has already received substantial help from the government.

“Should yet another enormous and illegal state aid bailout occur, then effective remedies must be applied to ensure fair competition in the French market and to protect the interests of the French consumer / visitor,” a Ryanair statement said.

The low-cost airline is based in Ireland and regularly underscores the amount of money being allocated to keep struggling rivals in the air.

In exchange for more aid, Air France must be prepared to give up “a substantial number of its take-off and landing slots at key French airports including Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly and Lyon,” Ryanair argued.

French officials and the European Commission are currently discussing the terms of a further recapitalisation of the Air France-KLM group, which has suffered from the Covid-19 crisis.

EU officials have already indicated that in exchange for their approval, Air France should give up coveted slots at Paris' Orly airport, which is essentially saturated now.

Air France on the other hand has indicated that such a move posed a serious threat because it was counting on Orly operations to help it rebound from the crisis.

French officials want to avoid putting Air France, which was struggling even before the pandemic, at a competitive disadvantage.

Ryanair urged EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to “stand firm in her discussions with the French government.

“Either Air France gets no state aid or proper remedies should be put in place to ensure a fair and level playing field for all airlines,” it insisted.

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