Ryanair calls for EU action to end ATC chaos

Wednesday 6, October 2010


Ryanair calls for EU action to end ATC chaos


Ryanair forced to cancel 1,400 flights in 2010 due to Belgian, French and Spanish ATC strikes.


Ryanair has called for the EU Commission to remove the ‘right to strike’ from essential air transport services such as ATC and to reform the EU261 passenger rights legislation which has again been shown to be unfit for purpose during last week’s ATC strikes in Belgium, France and Spain.


So far in 2010, Ryanair has been forced to cancel 1,400 flights and delay over 12,000 other flights, disrupting over 2.5m passengers, as a direct result of Belgian, French and Spanish ATC strikes and work to rules. Under EU261 regulations airlines suffer the costs of these disruptions without any recourse against those unions calling strikes or the EU Govts who own the ATCs and repeatedly allow European airspace to be closed. Ryanair will now take legal action against Belgocontrol following the wildcat strikes in Belgium last Tuesday, which caused the cancelation of over 90 Ryanair flights, disrupting over 15,000 passengers.


Ryanair called on the EU Commission to reform ATC services as follows:


  1. Remove the “right to strike” for essential services such as ATCs.
  2. Sack any ATC staff who participate in illegal strikes (as Ronald Reagan sacked and replaced striking ATC staff in the US in the 1980’s).
  3. Deregulate Europe’s national ATC services to allow non striking ATC’s to keep the skies over Belgium, France and Spain open, while their overpaid, underworked ATCs go on strike again and again.
  4. Reform the EU261 passenger rights legislation to relieve airlines of ‘right to care’ obligations in such force majeure cases which are clearly outside of airlines’ control.


Speaking in Brussels, Michael O’Leary said:

“How many more times will Europe’s airlines and their passengers be disrupted by unnecessary airspace closures, strikes and work to rules before the EU Commission finally takes some action? Striking ATC staff are the modern equivalent of highwaymen. They don’t care about consumers, they don’t care about passengers, they repeatedly strike because they know they can shut down Europe’s skies and hold EU Governments and passengers to ransom. 


It is ridiculous that Belgian, French and Spanish ATC controllers can repeatedly strike without any financial penalty, while airlines suffer a ‘right to care’ to passengers and absorb the costs of these un-necessary disruptions. It is also unacceptable that Spanish Air Traffic Controllers, some of whom earn almost €1 million per year, continue to engage in strikes, go slows and work to rules, causing delays and misery for millions of European passengers all summer long.


“The single greatest cause of ATCs delays are EU Govt owned and mismanaged ATC services. It’s time the ‘right to strike’ within this essential service was removed, like it is in the US. If these people don’t want to work, then replace them with military and other Air Traffic Controllers who do wish to work. The EU Commission must act to now end this ATC chaos.”



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