Budget airline Ryanair has hit out at French air traffic controller (ATC) unions over strikes that have seen hundreds of flights cancelled across Europe.
The company released a statement this evening repeating its call on the French government and EU Commission to "take action to prevent European consumers regularly being held to ransom by tiny numbers of ATC workers, who disrupt not only flights to and from France, but those overflying France, meaning ordinary travellers whose flights neither take-off from or land in a French airport are also suffering cancellations and delays".
A number of airlines, including British Airways and EasyJet, have been forced to cancel several flights scheduled for today and tomorrow due to industrial action in France.
Air traffic controllers are striking in protest against staff cuts, which industry union UNSA said are unrealistic due to the operational needs of control centres.
Ryanair also urged customers to sign its Keep Europe's Skies Open petition calling on the European Commission and European Parliament to remove the right to strike form Europe's ATC unions, and to allow other European ATCs to manage flights over French airspace during ATC union strike action.
The company said when it has obtained 1m signatures it will present the petition to the European institutions in Brussels "who will then be forced to consider taking action to prevent these unwarranted disruptions".
"We sincerely apologise to all those affected by the unwarranted actions of these French ATC workers who continue to hold European consumers to ransom and we call on the French Government and EU Commission to take action to prevent any further disruptions," said Ryanair's Robin Kiely.
"It’s grossly unfair that thousands of ordinary European consumers have their travel and holiday plans disrupted by the actions of a selfish few. We also encourage any affected customers to sign our online petition."