Ryanair hopes to gain one million signatures for a petition demanding action from Brussels against repeated strike by air traffic controllers.
The ‘Keep Europe’s Skies Open’ online petition comes as French controllers last night staged a walkout which runs until 6am local time tomorrow morning (Wednesday).
The air traffic controllers’ action, as part of a dispute involving unions representing five million French civil servants, will be compounded by French taxi drivers protesting against car sharing sites such as Uber.
Taxis plan to clog access to airports near Paris, Toulouse, Marseille and Bordeaux as France’s civil aviation authority called for airlines to cut their flight schedules by 20%
Ryanair, Europe’s largest budget airline, warned that the 40th strike by controllers in France since 2009 will result in thousands of flights being cancelled and hundreds of thousands of consumers having their flights cancelled or delayed.
Rival easyJet warned: “Like all airlines, our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying in French airspace, could be affected.
“We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact of the strike on our customers, and have taken the decision to proactively cancel a number of flights, allowing customers to reorganise their journeys.
“We advise all passengers to allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport and consider alternative transport options where possible, as public transport services will be affected by the strike.
“There is also a strong possibility of taxi driver manifestations blocking access roads to some of the major airports.”
British Airways cancelled a “small number” of flights but warned that delays were likely during the strike period today.
Air France aims to guarantee all long-haul flights today as well as 80% of short and medium-haul flights, but warned of possible minute cancellations.
Lufthansa cancelled 10 flights between Germany and France.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “It’s disgraceful that Europe’s consumers repeatedly have their holiday and travel plans disrupted or cancelled by the selfish actions of ATC unions, who use strikes as a first weapon rather than a last resort.
“We have launched this website where consumers can support our online petition calling on the European Commission and European Parliament to either remove the ATC unions’ right to strike, or allow other European ATCs to operate French or Spanish airspace during these repeated strikes.
“It’s high time the French government, European Commission and European Parliament took action to prevent Europe’s families and ordinary air travellers having their hard earned holidays or travel plans regularly disrupted by these ATC unions closing the skies over Europe.
“If the EU won’t listen to the airlines, perhaps they’ll listen to Europe’s citizens.”
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