Flight disruption possible for Irish passengers amid French air traffic control dispute

Ryanair warns of potential for delays and cancellations across Europe as a result of 36-hour strike by French air traffic controllers due to start on Monday evening

Flight cancellations remain a possibility over the coming days as airlines continue to monitor the impact of a 36-hour strike by French air traffic controllers due to start on Monday evening.

Aer Lingus has said it expects to operate a full schedule of flights over the rest of the bank holiday, while Ryanair has warned of the potential for delays and cancellations across Europe as a result of the action which is scheduled to go on until Wednesday morning.

As of Monday afternoon, however, just one of about 600 flights scheduled to arrive into or depart from Dublin Airport, Ryanair’s from Bordeaux, due to land before 1am, was listed as a cancellation on the DAA website.

A spokesman for DAA, however, said the airport operator was advising “all passengers to stay in contact with their airline if their flight is due to fly through French air traffic control space in the coming days”.


Aer Lingus said it was “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.”

Ryanair, meanwhile, repeated its call for the European Commission to take action in order to minimise the disruption caused by such industrial action.

The airline argues there should be binding arbitration in the disputes, longer notice periods and that the minimum cover provided by the workers involved should, as it is in some other European countries, be used to facilitate overflights through French air space rather than domestic and short-haul traffic as Ryanair says currently happens in France.

“It is completely impermissible that air traffic control [ATC] strikes can result in the cancellation of thousands of EU passengers’ flights, while France and other EU member states use minimum service laws to protect their domestic flights,” a Ryanair spokesperson said.

“If ATC unions insist on striking, which is their right, then they should cancel flights to/from the affected state and protect overflights, not cancel EU overflights from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK.

“The European Commission must now take urgent action and insist that all states protect overflights during ATC strikes as is already done in Greece, Italy and Spain.”

On what has been a particularly busy weekend at Dublin Airport, meanwhile, Minister of State for Transport Jack Chambers defended progress made there since last summer’s security queues and issues with the cleanliness of the terminal buildings and said efforts were being made to mitigate the more recent ones in relation to car parking.

The airport’s operator, DAA, last week warned passengers travelling over this bank holiday weekend that all 23,000 car-parking spaces were sold out and advised those who had not booked a space to consider taking public transport.

One issue is the loss of more than 6,000 parking spaces at the former Quick Park lot which closed a number of years ago.

DAA has been seeking to purchase that car park but the process has been held up while it is examined by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Asked about the situation on RTÉ radio Mr Chambers said: “It’s a matter for the CCPC to conclude that process.

“Obviously I know this is causing a lot of frustration for people that are trying to park at Dublin Airport but we as a government can’t instruct the CCPC to conclude a process.”

He said the DAA had been trying to increase taxi capacity at the airport when asked if more buses to the airport could be provided and said: “We’re working with the NTA [National Transport Authority] on growing our capacity of public transport across the country and that’s something that we’ll continue to engage with.”

Asked if it would be another summer of chaos at the airport Mr Chambers said: “I think if you compare the narrative on the airport last summer to this summer, I think to be fair to the DAA, there’s been a very positive progress made around the initiatives around airport security, around cleanliness within the airport.”

He said there was “enormous correct criticism last summer and there was huge gaps in a lot of the operational areas” but “many of those have been addressed”.

“Obviously the issue with parking is something they’ve tried to address and would have concluded if it wasn’t for the process with the CCPC and we have to allow that process to continue,” he said.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times