You rarely see IAG, the parent of airlines such as British Airways and Iberia, and Ryanair taking action in tandem but seems that both are fed up with the air traffic control strikes affecting France.
IAG and Ryanair are penning a complaint to the European Commission that these French strikes (254 days between 2004 and 2016) restrict the rights of European citizens to travel and there has to be a balance between those and the employees rights to strike.
Here’s an excerpt from the Financial Times (access their price here):
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said: “They are destroying European air traffic and having a huge impact on consumers . . . It’s a political problem that needs to be addressed by politicians, it’s not an airlines problem.”
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, criticised the “lethargy and inaction” of the commission and national governments. In Europe, air traffic control is managed on a national level.
And here’s from the Telegraph (access their piece here):
The pair urged the Commission to speed up progress on implementing a Single European Sky programme, which was first launched in 2000.
Such a programme would mean different jurisdictions of airspace would only apply when planes were flying lower to the ground, and above a certain height would be classed as European airspace. This would mean strikes in a certain country would have less of an impact on planes which weren’t landing or taking off from that country.
Mr O’Leary said upwards of two million passengers this year are likely to have their flight cancelled due to air traffic control strikes.
There was also a quote from O’Leary that it is statistically impossible that 60% of weather related cancellations would happen on Fridays and Saturdays as they do today (ATC related) and that these are likely just staffing related.
Implementing this Single European Sky really would make sense and then these national strikes wouldn’t affect flights that are merely flying over one country.
IAG is especially hard hit with these French ATC strikes because British Airways and Iberia both need to have access to French airspace a lot due to geographic location and flight paths.