In protest against Emmanuel Macron’s new labour reform policies, French Air Traffic Controllers walked out at 1700 British time on Monday, not to return until Wednesday morning. Other French unions are also taking strike action, which could affect public transport in France.

The move will affect hundreds of flights with several airlines, as many flights not directly involving French airports use French airspace. Ryanair have already cancelled hundreds of flights, affecting an estimated 40,000 travellers. Flights from Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh to France and Spain have been cancelled. The airline said: “Unfortunately, further flight delays and cancellations are likely and customers are asked to please monitor this notice which will be updated throughout the day. Ryanair sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused by these unjustified ATC disruptions which are entirely outside of our control.”

Easyjet, having also had to cancel many flights, said “As a large percentage of easyJet’s flights fly over France, this will have an impact on our flights to and from French airports, as well as those flying over French airspace.”

“The strike is also expected to impact many public services in France, including public transport. We advise all passengers to allow plenty of extra time to get to the airport and consider alternative transport options where possible.”

British Airways also cancelled several flights, and said “Yet again this will unfortunately bring another wave of unnecessary disruption for some customers travelling in Europe.”

The airline has also offered to re-accommodate travellers whose Monday or Tuesday flights were cancelled, to rebook on a date up to and including 12th October.”

Yet another strike by French Air Traffic Controllers unions, the most recent of many in the past few years, has caused misery for tens of thousands of travellers. To make matters worse, affected passengers are not even entitled to compensation under EU rules, as the delays and cancellations are beyond the control of the airlines.

However, airlines still have a duty of care to their customers, who have some rights under Regulation EC261/2004 rules. The airline must take all reasonable measures to re-accommodate passengers on alternative flights, and if they cannot do this on their own flights within two days, they must try to do so on other airlines at their own expense. Passengers are also entitled to refreshments, meals and accommodation while waiting for delayed and cancelled flights, and have the right to two phone calls/faxes/telexes/emails.

Ryanair Plane in Flight

In a last-ditch attempt to stop an exodus of dissatisfied pilots, Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary, sent a letter out to pilots begging them to stay and offering them loyalty bonuses as a bribe. Pilots have responded by saying that Ryanair still don’t seem to understand the source of their dissatisfaction.

This comes against a backdrop of problems for Ryanair, who recently cancelled tens of thousands of flights causing chaos for travellers, who they then misled about their legal rights. It wasn’t until the UK’s aviation regulator, the CAA, threatened legal action, that the airline finally bowed to pressure to stop breaking the law.

Ryanair’s appeal to pilots comes amidst rumours that pilots are leaving the airline to join competitors such as Norwegian, having battled unsatisfactory working and contractual conditions for some time.

In a three-page letter headed “A note to all Ryanair pilots”, Michael O’Leary apologises for “the rostering management failure we have suffered over recent weeks”.

He promises “a 12-month loyalty/productivity bonus of up to €12,000” for captains, with half as much for first officers, “subject only to reasonable and achievable performance or targets being met”.

“This we hope will dissuade people leaving to join less financially secure airlines and damaging their careers,” he writes.

“We are a very secure employer — in a very insecure industry.”

Mr O’Leary clearly names the rival airlines he thinks are poaching Ryanair’s staff, “If you have any evidence of competitor 737 operators (such as Norwegian and Jet2) at your base paying more that [sic] Ryanair then provide it to us and we will meet it and beat it.

“If you have, or are considering, joining one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines, I urge you to stay with Ryanair for a brighter future for you and you family,” he writes.

One pilot said of the letter: “This reeks of desperation.” Brian Struttoe, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), said: “Our feedback from Ryanair pilots who have seen Michael O’Leary’s letter suggests that he still doesn’t get it. Pilots from bases all over the U.K have told us that they don’t want half-hearted excuses to shut them up.

“They tell us that they want genuine respect.”

Ryanair Plane Disembarking After Jet Escort

A Ryanair flight from Kaunas, Lithuania, was bound for Luton Airport when a security alert was prompted, in what is thought to be a hoax. Two RAF jets were scrambled from the RAF’s Quick Reaction Alert station in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, and flew to intercept the jet.

An RAF spokesperson said: “The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft. The aircraft landed normally at Stansted and customers will be transferred to Luton by coach when cleared to do so.”

Stansted Airport was closed briefly during the incident, but flights soon after returned to normal.

Essex Police said the plane landed safely at 8.55am and passengers were being taken off.

“The runway was closed for a short time but has now reopened,” a spokesperson added. “Police are on the scene and enquiries are ongoing.”

Monarch Plane on Runway

Yesterday saw the end to the British Charter airline, Monarch Airlines. The devastating news for both Monarch employees and customers was announced yesterday at 4 a.m. after much speculation on the company’s viability over recent years.

Monarch, who are a Luton based company, opened their doors in 1968 offering flights to over 40 destinations around the world. The airline prided itself on their customer service but struggled to compete alongside the budget airlines. Andrew Swaffield, Monarch’s Chief Executive, attributed the decline of the airline on the terror attacks in Tunisia and Egypt which caused the airline to stop flights to two of their biggest markets.

KPMG have been appointed administrators to manage Monarch’s collapse and the CAA have stepped up managing the return of an estimated 110,000 customers who are stranded abroad, the cost of which is expected to reach around £60 million.

The CAA chief executive, Andrew Haines, said: “This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.

“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home.”

Those hardest hit are Monarch customers who have booked their flights and are yet to travel. Some 750,000 passengers are unsure on how to receive a refund for their booked Monarch flight. People who booked via credit or debit card may be able to claim refunds from the card providers, and people who booked through ATOL-protected agencies will be covered. However, some people did not book via these methods, and some travel insurance does not cover the dissolution of an airline. Furthermore, people who booked flights only direct with Monarch are not ATOL-protected. This issue is being considered by the CAA and further advice is expected to be announced shortly.

The CAA also has a 24-hour helpline for affected people to call: 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland and +44 1753 330330 from overseas.

Claim4Flights will not be accepting any new Monarch compensation claims and all our existing customers will be notified directly.

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