Ryanair, at its annual general meeting today, called on the European Commission to end the ability of Europe’s air traffic control providers to strike, primarily by exposing them to competition under a market-based system. At the same time, the airline called on governments to replace striking ATC personnel with military and “other substitutes…to keep Europe’s vital airspace open and running efficiently.” The Irish low-fare airline condemned European governments for failing to end repeated strikes, which it blamed for “unnecessary flight delays all summer,” particularly within French, German, Spanish and UK airspace.
The continent should deregulate its national ATC providers and allow them to compete against each other, according to Ryanair. If, for example, the French go on strike, then the British or the Spanish should be allowed to manage French airspace “to prevent flights being cancelled or delayed and consumers being blackmailed or held to ransom,” Ryanair concluded. Meanwhile, it called on European governments to take actions similar to those carried out by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who in the early 1980s fired striking air traffic controllers in the U.S.
“The U.S. ATC service is far more efficient, cheaper and causes far fewer delays than Europe’s mismanaged, unproductive ATC providers,” said Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. “Europe’s airlines and passengers have suffered all summer long, while the German, French and Spanish ATCs have either gone on strike, failed to show up for work, or when at work, insist on applying ludicrous work-to-rule practices.
“The European Commission and Parliament keep banging on about passenger rights during flight delays, when in reality most of this summer’s flight delays have been caused by European governments’ abject failure to manage their ATC services, with the result that Europe’s airlines and passengers are blackmailed by ATC strikes, ‘go-slows’ and the feeble management which runs Europe’s national ATC monopolies,” he continued.
O’Leary called on European lawmakers to allow “the best and most efficient” ATC providers to offer their services across Europe “to ensure that Europe’s airlines and passengers are no longer held to ransom by striking ATC bureaucrats.”