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Blame the French for British Airways Delays?

EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air and IAG, the body which owns British Airways, are taking their formal grievance against France to the EU, saying strikes by the nation’s air traffic controllers violate freedom of movement laws. IAG’S Willie Walsh and Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary have called for fast action.

Four carriers are protesting that ongoing strikes by French air traffic controllers are restricting passengers’ freedom of movement, reports the BBCThe outlet reports that both Ryanair and EasyJet as well as Wizz Air and International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns British Airways (BA), are in the process of taking up their grievance formally with the EU Commission.

The carriers’ collective argument holds that by staging this ongoing labor action, the controllers are in contravention of EU law by not allowing aircraft to pass over French airspace. The nation’s air traffic controllers have carried out multiple strikes in protest against reforms by the French government.

Commenting on the situation, Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, was quoted by the outlet as saying, “The right to strike needs to be balanced against freedom of movement. Passengers on routes that overfly France, especially the large airspace that covers Marseille and the Mediterranean, are also subject to delays and massive disruptions.”

Walsh also noted that the strikes were hurting carriers dearly in terms of fuel costs, as planes must ensure that they fly around French airspace.

EasyJet has estimated that its fuel costs for the year will go up by about three per cent.

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary implored the EU to act, saying, “We call on Europe’s governments and the EU Commission to take urgent and decisive action to ensure that ATC providers are fully staffed and that overflights are not affected when national strikes take place.”

Ryanair has been especially hit by strikes this year; in May, the carrier reported having to scrap 1,100 flights because of labor action.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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