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New French ATC Protests: Ryanair Petition Surpasses 600,000 Signatures
May 1, 2023, Labor Day, will see the next round of protests in France against the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64. The reform, approved by the French Constitutional Court on April 14, has sparked new protests across the country. The change, sought by current President Emmanuel Macron, was presented as a way to force workers to pay more into the system, which the French government says is on the verge of going into deficit. The reform would also require 43 years of work to be eligible for a full pension, while people are already entitled to a full state pension at the age of 67, regardless of contributions.
Most French unions have therefore called on citizens and workers in all sectors to take to the streets in protests and marches. Air Traffic Controllers have also taken part in general strikes, and the French authorities have warned that this will lead to disruptions from the evening of Sunday, April 30, until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2.
Just a few days ago, EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said that the British airline does not contest the right to strike, but flights on French soil must be protected, warning that France must deal with strikes before tourists “go elsewhere”. During the protests, some 10 million travelers were affected by delays and 64,000 people had their flights canceled.
In Paris, the Direction générale de l’aviation civile (DGAC) has asked airlines to cancel 33 percent of scheduled flights at Orly and 25 percent at Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais airports on May 1. However, not only French airports will be affected, but most likely the flight will only “pass through” French skies. The most affected airports will be Paris Orly, Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais, as well as Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Nice.
Ryanair confirmed that more than 600,000 passengers have already signed the “Protect Passengers: Keep EU Skies Open” petition launched by the Irish low-cost airline five weeks ago. The aim is to call on EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to take immediate action to protect the freedom of movement and overflight of European citizens during the French air traffic control strikes. Once the petition reaches one million signatures, the airline will present it to the EU Commission.
According to Ryanair’s website, in the first four months of 2023, more than 50 days of French ATC strikes (10 times more than in all of 2022) forced the Irish airline to cancel more than 3,700 flights, resulting in the short-term cancellation of more than 666,000 passenger flights, not only in French skies, but also in Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
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