Business Irish

Sunday 22 July 2018

Air traffic control strikes sees Ryanair cancel more than 1,100 flights in June

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Low fares airline Ryanair cancelled more than 1,100 flights in June as air traffic control strikes and staff shortages among air traffic controllers took its toll.

More than 210,000 Ryanair customers had their flights cancelled in June as a result of four weekends of air traffic control strikes and repeated UK, German and French air traffic control staff shortages, according to the airline.

In comparison, the airline cancelled only 41 flights in June last year.

In a statement today Ryanair said that it was calling for "urgent" action from the European Commission and European governments to improve the effect of further air traffic control strikes and staff shortages.

"Ryanair calls for urgent action by the EU Commission and European governments to ameliorate the effect of ATC strikes and staff shortages in the UK, Germany and France from disrupting the travel plans of millions of Europe’s consumers this summer," Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer at Ryanair, said.

Overall and passenger traffic was up 7pc year-on-year at the airline to 12.6 million in June.

The load factor was unchanged year-on-year at 96pc.

Rolling annual traffic to June grew 7pc to 132.9 million customers.

Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said: "Regrettably, over 210,000 Ryanair customers had their flights cancelled in June because of four weekends of ATC (air traffic control) strikes and repeated UK, German and French ATC staff shortages.

In response to Ryanair's statement, NATS, the main air navigation service provider in the UK said it had not participated in any strike action and its staffing delay is consistently minimal (0.5pc last month).

"NATS handles 25pc of European traffic and has an extremely good punctuality record – we are maintaining that record despite a big growth in air traffic.  The average NATS-attributable delay per flight in the last calendar year was less than seven seconds."

"Despite record levels of traffic, data published for June 2018 by Eurocontrol, nominated by the European Commission to act as the EU Network Manager, shows NATS’ staffing delay in the UK represented less than 0.5pc of total air traffic flow management delay in Europe."

"We are surprised at Ryanair’s criticism of the quality of the UK’s air traffic control service – the categories of delay are set across Europe and all ATC providers are required to report against them.  We don’t just make it up. The very high increase in traffic levels, which already this summer have broken all previous records, means there are occasions when total traffic exceeds the airspace capacity and so we have to regulate the amount of traffic using it, to maintain a safe operation."

"We are embarking on a major programme to modernise airspace in SE England in order to accommodate forecast growth in air traffic and we are committed to taking every opportunity to consult with airline and airport customers to minimise any disruption these changes may cause.”

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