A complaint with the European Union against France have been submitted jointly by British Airways’ parent company IAG and budget carriers Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air in relation to the continuing strike by the air traffic controllers in the country.
The principle of freedom of movement within the EU have been restricted because of the strike, claimed and that the law is being broken by France by not enabling flights that pass over the country during the walkouts.
Opposing polices for lowering of staffing levels and labor reforms that are being pushed by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, the air traffic controllers in France have gone on strike.
33 per cent of flight delays in Europe has been because of France alone, confirmed the French Senate last month. Additionally, over Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes have cause delays in 16,000 flights in the first half of 2018, according to the traffic management organization Eurocontrol.
In the statement, Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “The right to strike needs to be balanced against freedom of movement,” before adding that flights over France were having a “significant negative impact on Spain’s tourism and economy.”
According to the airlines, a legal precedence exists for its argument and it cited a complaint that was file din 1997 by the Spanish with the EU Commission when Spanish fruit and vegetable exports into the rest of the EU were prevented by French farmers.
Ensuring free movement of goods had bene failed by the French authorities, the European judges had ruled in that case.
Europe’s airways are “near meltdown”, said Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, while urging France to allow planes to fly above the country during strikes.
“When Greece and Italy have ATC strikes, overflights continue as normal. Why won’t France do the same?” he said in the statement.
The air traffic controllers are staffed well enough to tackle situations – especially when there is a strike, O’Leary also said.
“ATC providers are hiding behind adverse weather and euphemisms such as ‘capacity restrictions’ when the truth is they are not rostering enough air traffic controllers,” he said.
O’Leary said Europe’s governments and the EU Commission needed to step in, a sentiment echoed in the statement by Wizz Air’s Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi.
“Addressing this issue must be a priority for the European authorities to ensure European citizens and businesses are no longer held hostage to national industrial relations issues,” Varadi said.
It is not the responsibility of the commission to make any comments on industrial disputes that are between individual airlines, said the EU commission spokesperson Enrico Brivio in a press conference.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)