Ryanair has reinforced calls for the European Commission to take action to prevent the third strike by French air traffic controllers in two weeks.
Europe’s largest low-fares carrier condemned the planned walkout as “unjustified” and holding the European single market and open skies “to ransom”.
The industrial action from this evening compounds disruption caused by the closure of Brussels Zaventem airport following last Tuesday’s terrorist bombings.
Ryanair confirmed yesterday that all flights planned to and from Zaventem up until Friday will continue to operate from Brussels Charleroi airport.
British Airways flights to Brussels have been cancelled until Monday and services from Tuesday are being kept under review as the airline awaits more information from the Belgian authorities.
BA passengers due to fly to and from Brussels between April 5-9 are being offered the option to rebook to a later date or alternative destination. The airline is using Liege airport as an alternative gateway to Belgium until Monday.
EasyJet is to continue operating flights to Lille in France instead of Zaventem until tomorrow – but those services face uncertainty due to the French strike action.
“As well as affecting flights to and from France, the strike action is likely to cause delays to other flights which use French airspace,” the airline said in an alert on its website. “We recommend that all customers travelling on Thursday 31 March 2016 check the status of their flight.”
Ryanair attacked the French government for protecting French domestic flights via minimum service obligations while thousands of flights from the UK, Ireland, Spain and Italy – none of which either take off or land in France – are cancelled, and hundreds of thousands of passengers’ travel plans are disrupted.
“The European Commission’s failure to prevent these repeated cancellations makes a mockery of the single European market,” Ryanair said.
The carrier also called on the European Court to reverse its previous rulings that EU airlines must pay compensation to passengers in cases of air traffic control strikes which airlines have no control over.
Ryanair and other European airlines have repeatedly called on the commission to require French air traffic control unions to engage in binding arbitration instead of strikes to resolve their claims, or allow controllers from other countries to operate flights over France while unions are on strike.
Ryanair chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said: “It’s time for the European Commission to act to protect the interests of Europe’s passengers who are frequently held to ransom by the French ATC union.
“You cannot have an effective single market in Europe but then allow a tiny French union to close down half the skies over Europe, causing hundreds of thousands of passenger flights to be cancelled or delayed, when these passengers cannot be re-accommodated because all other flights are heavily booked during the peak Easter holiday period.
“We call on every disrupted passengers this week to sign up to Ryanair’s petition, KeepEuropesSkiesOpen.com, and we call on the European Commission to prevent Europe’s skies being closed by French ATC.
“Europe’s airlines and our customers are fed up being blackmailed and held to ransom by a tiny French ATC union, while the European Commission and the European Court stand idly by doing nothing about it.”
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