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14 Jun 2018

BY James Chapple

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Ryanair warns EU air traffic control 'on verge of meltdown'

Ryanair has called for immediate “urgent action” to protect Europe’s air traffic control (ATC) from “meltdown” following widespread staff shortages and strikes.

Michael OLeary, director and CEO of Ryanair
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Ryanair warns EU air traffic control 'on verge of meltdown'

The airline said on Thursday (June 14) it had been forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights in May alone, compared to just 43 the same time last year. EasyJet, meanwhile, cancelled just shy of 1,000 flights in May, up from 117 in May 2017, said Ryanair.


Ryanair said there had been an “alarming deterioration” in Europe’s ATC services in May and June, and is urging the EU Commission and European governments to step in.


“Yet again this weekend, French ATC will strike on Saturday and Sunday [June 16-17] leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled, disrupting holiday plans of thousands of passengers,” said Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, who warned Europe’s ATC was on the verge of “meltdown”.


“Many of these flights don’t even touch France, yet they will be disruptive because French ATC requires airlines to cancel overflights while they protect French domestic routes.


“Europe’s airlines are also suffering thousands of ATC delays and cancellations because of staff shortages, especially in German and UK ATC providers. These disruptions are unacceptable.


“We call on the UK and German Governments, and the EU Commission, to take urgent and decisive action to ensure ATC providers are fully staffed and that overflights are not affected when national strikes take place, as they repeatedly do in France.”


According to Ryanair, in May, 117,000 European flights were delayed, 61% due to ATC staff shortages and strikes.


More than 56,000 flights were delayed for more than 15 minutes, up from 14,000 over the same period last year.


O’Leary added: “Europe’s ATC providers are approaching the point of meltdown with hundreds of flights being cancelled daily simply because they don’t have enough staff to deal with them.


“Urgent action must now be taken otherwise thousands more flights and millions of passengers will be disrupted, particularly in the peak months of July and August, unless this ATC staffing crisis is addressed.”

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