Prospect slams Ryanair bid to thwart air traffic control strike


Prospect slams Ryanair bid to thwart air traffic control strike

Aviation specialists have condemned Ryanair’s call for the European Commission and parliament to act to prevent air traffic controllers from striking.

The budget airline’s online petition, launched on the eve of industrial action planned by French air traffic controllers, calls for strikes to either be banned in the same way as for the police and military, or made ineffective by allowing ATCs in other European countries to step in.

“Asking for other air traffic controllers to control French airspace is a dangerous proposal which suggests that Ryanair is either ignorant of its own industry or wholly disingenuous,” said Steve Jary, national secretary of Prospect, which represents 3,000 UK air traffic control officers and system specialists.

“The European safety regulator would not permit this because individual controllers have to train for months to be validated for particular sectors and roles.

“What’s more, the technology used is not common to all countries. UK controllers would not be able or allowed to simply take over responsibility for French airspace – it would be like asking somebody to drive blindfolded on an unfamiliar road in an unfamiliar car.”

Jary accused the airline of hypocrisy for saying a strike ban would not prevent European ATC workers from joining unions, organising and airing their concerns. “The airline refuses to recognise unions for its own workforce, so why should anyone trust these comments?” he asked.

“It is also ironic that Ryanair has positioned itself as a champion for passengers. In 2011 the company objected to the EU’s decision to introduce passenger compensation for delays, and responded by imposing a passenger levy on all tickets.”

The company was also rated the “worst” of 100 brands for customer service in a survey by the Which? consumers’ association in 2013.

“Despite its attitude to its staff and passengers, Prospect members don't and won’t discriminate against Ryanair. The airline will continue to get the same high-quality and professional air navigation service as every other airline.

“Safety comes first – not airline profits. We retain the moral high ground. We challenge Ryanair to do the same,” said Jary.