Speaking from Ryanair’s Dublin operation center this morning, Mr O’Leary said only domestic flights in France should be canceled and that it is “absolutely indefensible” that other flights across Europe and Ireland are disrupted.
He said countries like Spain, Italy and Greece already protected overflights when their national ATC unions went on strike.
This comes as more than 30 flights to and from Dublin Airport have been canceled today.
Ryanair has warned passengers that the strike will run until Wednesday morning.
Flights to and from Ireland that depend on French air traffic controllers will be impacted as a result.
“Again today we’ve had to cancel just about 400 flights out of the 3,200 flights we had scheduled to operate today,” he said.
“All of these flights have been canceled because of the latest French ATC strike. The vast majority of these are overflights, they’re not going to France. They’re flights from Britain to Spain, from Portugal to Germany, from Italy to Ireland.
“There’s no reason why these overflights are being canceled during a day when French ATC is on strike.
“We respect their right to strike but if they go on strike, it should be French domestic flights or local flights in France that get cancelled. They have alternatives.
“But people flying across France are having their flights unnecessarily canceled because the European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen will not take action.
“Last week Ryanair submitted a petition signed by over 1.1 million of our very fed-up customers calling for the Commission to insist that France protects overflights during French ATC strikes.
“Europe is a single market, in a single market the overflights and the skies over Europe must be protected.
“Let’s stop the scandal of families having their holidays destroyed because overflights are being unnecessarily cancelled.”
Flights from all airlines which pass through France may be affected and a spokesperson daa, which operates both Dublin and Cork airports, said passengers should seek “updates about specific flights should contact their airline directly”.
Smooth sailing at Dublin Airport as travelers jet off on busy Bank Holidays with easy departures
The strike is expected to impact flights today in particular.
According to the live air traffic website, Flight Radar 24, 16 flights to Dublin Airport and 15 flights from the facility, which were scheduled for today and tomorrow, have been canceled so far.
The canceled flights are as follows:
08:20 KL933 Amsterdam (AMS) KLM
11:05 FR1987 Nantes (NTE) Ryanair
11:20 EI693 Dusseldorf (DUS) Aer Lingus
11:35 EI681 Geneva (GVA) Aer Lingus
13:05 FR4284 Marseille (MRS) Ryanair
14:00 FR5061 Cagliari (CAG) Ryanair
15:00 FR5132 Basel (BSL) Ryanair
16:35 FR23 Paris (BVA) Ryanair
17:00 FR1983 Biarritz (BIQ) Ryanair
17:00 TO7908 Paris (ORY) Transavia France
17:45 FR1959 Nice (NCE) Ryanair
20:05 FR1985 Carcassonne (CCF) Ryanair
22:40 FR1115 Reus (REU) Ryanair
23:10 FR5406 Murcia (RMU) Ryanair
23:10 FR25 Paris (BVA) Ryanair
06:35 FR1986 Nantes (NTE) Ryanair
07:10 FR5060 Cagliari (CAG) Ryanair
07:40 FR4285 Marseille (MRS) Ryanair
08:55 KL934 Amsterdam (AMS) KLM
10:10 FR5131 Basel (BSL) Ryanair
12:00 FR1958 Nice (NCE) Ryanair
12:20 FR1982 Biarritz (BIQ) Ryanair
12:55 FR22 Paris (BVA) Ryanair
15:00 FR1984 Carcassonne (CCF) Ryanair
16:30 FR5405 Murcia (RMU) Ryanair
16:55 FR1116 Reus (REU) Ryanair
17:40 TO7909 Paris (ORY) Transavia France
19:30 FR24 Paris (BVA) Ryanair
19:55 BA823 London (LHR) British Airways
19:55 FR6485 Bordeaux (BOD) Ryanair
00:35 FR6484 Bordeaux (BOD) Ryanair
A spokesperson for Ryanair told Independent.ie that affected passengers “have been notified and advised of their options”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Aer Lingus said: “We are operating our schedule as planned today, Monday 5th June, however we continue to monitor air traffic control strike action in the French region very closely. We will notify customers directly of any changes to their flights.”
Dozens of strikes by air traffic controllers in France have already been held this year in response to pension reforms by the government there that will raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Teachers, transport workers and refuse workers take also take part in tomorrow’s industrial action.
While in many other countries such as Spain and Italy, overflights transiting through their airspace during strike actions are protected from being diverted or grounded, there is no such protection in France.
It comes as Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has called on the European Commission to act on the impact of air traffic control strikes.
Last week, Mr O’Leary delivered the ‘Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open’ petition to EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen’s office – having collected more than 1.1 million signatures from what the airline described as “fed-up passengers demanding that the EU Commission protects overflights and EU citizens’ freedom of movement during repeated ATC (air traffic control) strikes.”
“In the first five months of 2023, there have been 57 days of ATC strikes (10 times more than 2022) forcing airlines to disproportionately cancel thousands of EU overflights from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland while France in particular, uses Minimum Service Laws to protect their domestic/ short-haul flights while disproportionately canceling overflights.France (and all other EU states) should copy the example of Spain, Italy and Greece all of whom use Minimum Service Laws to protect overflights during ATC strikes.
“If this means that a greater number of domestic or short-haul flights are cancelled, then so be it, but flights over France must be protected during French ATC strikes,” Ryanair said in a statement.
“Respect the strike rights of ATC unions, but protect 100pc of overflights (like Greece, Italy & Spain) during national ATC strikes.
“If ATC strikes require cancellations, then allocate these to domestic/short-haul flights to/from the affected State. Enforce binding arbitration for ATC disputes before strike action. Require a 21-day notice of strike action. Require a 72h [hour] notice of employee participation in ATC strikes to minimize passenger disruption.”