Saturday 1 October 2016

Chaos as French strikes force Ryanair and Aer Lingus to cancel flights

'Summer of Discontent'

Denise Calnan & Pól Ó Conghaile

Published 25/05/2016 | 22:00

Ryanair, Aer Lingus
Ryanair, Aer Lingus
Airplane stock photo: Deposit Photos
Ryanair. Stock picture

Irish passengers face major disruption today, with a new wave of French ATC strikes set to cause travel chaos this summer.

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Ryanair and Aer Lingus have cancelled over 80 flights between them on Thursday, May 26, due to the latest industrial action by French air traffic controllers.

Further strikes are planned for June 3-5 and June 14, which will result in thousands of flights being disrupted across Europe - including services to and from Spain and Italy.

June 14 is the day after Ireland's Euro 2016 clash with Sweden in Paris.

The latest strikes begin today, with Ryanair cancelling more than 70 flights, including services between Dublin and Murcia and Basel.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus has cancelled 10 services from Dublin, including flights to and from Lyon, Perpignan, Barcelona, Marseilles and Alicante.

Both airlines have apologised for any inconvenience, and are advising customers to rebook their flights or apply for a refund on their websites.

This is the sixth set of French ATC strikes in two months, and the 47th since 2009, according to Ryanair, which has called on the EU to take action.

"As we approach the peak holiday season, European travellers should prepare for a summer of discontent as there is absolutely nothing preventing these selfish unions from staging even more strikes in the coming weeks and months," said Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair's Chief Marketing Officer.

Fans travelling to Euro 2016 should now prepare for potential disruption, he added.

Air-traffic control unions are striking due to proposed changes to working arrangements and retirement conditions, and are also reported to be unhappy with salary levels.

Ryanair and other EU airlines have called on the EU to require the unions to engage in binding arbitration instead of strikes, and to allow other European ATCs to operate flights over France while they are on strike.

"The overall impact of these strikes will be immense as they are taking place at a very busy time of the year," said Thomas Reynaert of airline association A4E. 

"We are hurtling towards  a summer of disruption and frustration for customers."

A petition against the strikes is open at KeepEuropesSkiesOpen.com.

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