Ryanair boss blames European air traffic control for flight delays


One in five Ryanair flights this summer will be delayed by air traffic control providers, claims the managing director of the airline’s main operations.

said Ddie Wilson, CEO of Ryanair DAC The Independent: “The main factor that affects all markets, whether you have enough staff or an airline that does not have enough staff, is air traffic control [ATC]. It’s the culprit.

“We planned better, we have the right number of people, but still there will be delays this summer because of air traffic control.

“At the moment, that’s costing us more than 20 percent in terms of punctuality.

“It makes life really, really difficult. And for ATC there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Mr Wilson particularly criticized air traffic control organizations in Germany and France for delays in overflights. Almost all UK flights to Portugal, Spain and Italy fly through French airspace, while routes to Croatia, Greece and Turkey transit through Germany.

“The Germans and the French need to hire more people so we can all get started this summer,” he said.

“It’s the ’roundabout in the sky’ that everyone from Ireland and the UK has to go through to get to Spain, Portugal and Italy.”

“This summer there are 15 percent fewer flights and 20 percent more delays due to air traffic control capacities.

“Even organized airlines like Ryanair who have everyone on the plane, all with their bags – they wait unnecessarily on runways to get departure clearance.

“It means the days are longer for our crews and it’s a lot harder to organise.

“The airlines that don’t have enough staff end up having even more problems and unplanned cancellations.

“But if we could weed out ATC, that would give the airlines a chance.”

Mr Wilson said operational crises of the kind that can affect aviation every few weeks are now the order of the day in Europe.

“We usually have a 90 percent plus record here, sometimes 95 percent,” he said.

“This summer it was 60 percent. That’s a huge drop.”

Low-cost airlines succeed by extracting high productivity from airplanes. Typically, they schedule an aircraft to make two round trips with a minimum “turnaround” of 25 or 30 minutes in between, followed by a “fire break” of maybe 45 minutes to make up for lost time before another four flights to balance.

There are delays throughout the day. An example is the Ryanair flight from Stansted to Cologne on Wednesday evening. She is due to arrive at 11.20pm but was last on schedule on June 22nd. Since then, the average delay has been one hour.

Late completion of shifts by crew can also impact future scheduling.

The Ryanair boss said delays in air traffic control are causing environmental damage by keeping planes grounded with engines running awaiting clearance to take off.

He predicted: “It will last until next summer if the German and French governments do not adequately resource their ATC facilities.

“It’s the infrastructure and it needs to be fixed.”

A spokesman for Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) rejected the criticism: “The DFS infrastructure must be fully available even with minimal traffic.

“Therefore, no staff was cut during the crisis, but rather recruited, especially young air traffic controllers.

“In the crisis years of 2020 and 2021, around 100 young people started their air traffic controller training at DFS.

“For 2022 and the following years, we plan to start around 140 new employees every year in their training. Air traffic controllers take about four years to train and we want to be well prepared for the future.”

French air navigation service provider DSNA was also asked for comment. Ryanair boss blames European air traffic control for flight delays

Fry Electronics Team

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