French air traffic controllers staged a strike today, disrupting travel plans of thousands of people returning from summer holidays around Europe. Irish airline Ryanair has been forced to cancel at least 110 flights today. We look into the rights of passengers affected.
The industrial action is being staged as part of a nationwide walk-out in response to French President Macron’s labour reforms. Strike action by French air traffic controllers caused widespread disruption to flights in and out of France as well as those crossing its airspace. This means that travellers whose flights neither take-off from nor land in a French airport are also affected. Thousands of holidaymakers are left stranded or faced lengthy delays on the first day of the strike.
Further cancellations are possible and delays likely. Passengers intending to travel across Europe between today and the morning of 13th of September are advised to check their flight status before travelling to the airport. It is not likely that any compensation will be payable, because flights are disrupted due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. However, if your flight is affected, it is important that you are aware of your rights and entitlements.
In the event that your flight is cancelled, your carrier must offer you the choice between the following:
- re-routing as soon as possible,
- re-routing at a later date at your convenience,
- a refund
If you choose the first option, the airline must provide you with care and assistance while you wait for the alternative flight:
- meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time,
- hotel accommodation where an overnight stay becomes necessary,
- transport between the hotel accommodation and the airport,
- two free telephone calls/ access to email
If your plane has been delayed, your air carrier must provide you with the care and assistance described above. The qualifying delay time before these rights kick in is two, three, or four hours for flight distances of up to 1500km, between 1500-3500km, and over 3500km respectively. In addition, if your flight is delayed by more than five hours, the airline must offer you the choice between:
- continuing with your journey,
- a refund of the cost of your ticket
If the airline does not provide the care and assistance described above, you should make your own reasonable arrangements and retain all receipts in the process. Passengers are advised to then submit copies of these receipts to their air carrier for reimbursement.
In both situations (flight cancellations and long delays) air carriers should provide affected passengers with written notices setting out their rights and entitlements as set out in European Regulation 261/2004. You can also contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation on 1890 787 787.