'Severe' travel disruption expected as French strikes impact Ryanair and Aer Lingus flights
Strikes by French air traffic controllers likely to cause travel disruption this week
Airlines are warning passengers to check the status of their flights to France due to calls for a French National Strike on Tuesday, May 22.
"Severe" travel disruption is expected as French air traffic controllers call to join the industrial action, though the extent of cancellations is not yet clear.
“Due to yet another French ATC strike, Ryanair regrets to inform customers that it has been forced to cancel a number of flights on Tuesday (22 May)," the airline told Independent.ie Travel.
"Due to this unjustified ATC strike action, we also expect delays to flights to/from/over France and we advise customers due to travel on Tuesday to check the status of their flight on the ryanair.com website," it added.
As we publish, Ryanair flights from Dublin to Carcassonne, Biarritz and Ibiza have been cancelled for Tuesday, May 22.
Aer Lingus says it is also expecting "some operational disruption" this week.
It is advising passengers planning to travel to France to check the status of their flight online before travelling to their departure airport.
'Severe' travel disruption expected
"As this is a nationwide strike, the impact on EU airlines and their passengers is expected to be severe," adds lobby group Airlines For Europe (A4E).
If the strikes go ahead, flights that typically operate through French airspace - such as certain routes to Spain or Portugal - may also be affected.
Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus say affected passengers will be notified by email or SMS, with the full extent of flight cancellations likely to emerge later today as French authorities release information about the scale of the industrial action.
What happens if my flights are cancelled?
Airline passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to a full refund, rebooking onto the next available flight, or rebooking onto an alternative route.
In a pre-emptive move, Aer Lingus has relaxed its booking policies in response to the strike, allowing passengers booked to fly to French destinations on May 22 to change their departures to Monday, May 21, Wednesday, May 23, Thursday, May 24, or Friday May 25, "regardless of whether their flight is operating or not."
British Airways and Air France have taken similar steps.
Strikes by French air traffic controllers have become a regular feature of air travel in Europe - so much so that EU airlines are lobbying the European Commission to take action to limit the disruption they can cause (see keepeuropesskiesopen.com).
As tomorrow's planned strike is national, public transport may also be affected, so passengers travelling within France should plan accordingly.
NB: This story is being updated to reflect developments.