ATC staff shortages, strikes disrupting plans of millions of airline passengers this summer

Europe’s largest airline Ryanair is calling for urgent action by the European Commission and the 28 EU member states to call a halt to the ‘alarming deterioration’ seen in Europe’s ATC services during the months of May and June and prevent a full meltdown of ATC services this summer.
“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. ““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.”
He added that Europe’s airlines are also suffering thousands of ATC delays and cancellations because of staff shortages, especially in German and UK ATC providers.
“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 per cent 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.”
He added that weather delays accounted for 39 per cent (45,000 flights), a fourfold increase in the 11,000 weather delays of May 2017. “Strangely, a majority (almost 60 per cent) of these weather delays took place on Fridays and Saturdays rather than the other five days of the week, which suggests that ATC providers are using adverse weather to cover their staff shortages.”
“The EU target delay for 2018 is an average of 0.5 minutes per flight. However, the current forecast for 2018 is now heading towards 1.5 minutes per flight, nearly treble the EU target,” the Ryanair chief pointed out.