Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary condemned the French air traffic controllers’ strikes this week revealing the carrier suffered a loss of €10-€20 million in the wake of most recent strikes and the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

O’Leary said he expected the impact of both events would reduce over the coming months, but warned they could last until the summer.

He told media at the launch of the third year of Ryanair’s Always Getting Better campaign that there had been 43 French ATC strikes since 2009 and five in France, Greece and Italy in the past three weeks.

“There is an issue with the rate and frequency of these strikes,” he said.

“They are happening in at Easter and leading up to summer when airlines have no ability to recover.

“Passengers are being left stranded because there is no space on other aircraft. Millions of customers are being affected by this.”

In July last year Ryanair launched a petition – ‘Keep Europe’s Skies Open’.

The carrier wants the petition to result in the removal of the right to strike for Europe’s ATC unions, “in the same way that Europe’s various police and military forces are not allowed to strike”.

Alternatively Ryanair wants it to be allowed for other European ATCs to manage flights over French airspace during ATC strikes, “which would minimise cancellations and disruptions for Europe’s consumers in Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK, who need to

cross over French and Spanish airspace”.

O’Learly also suggested allowing overflights to be included in minimum service requirements.

He added: “The only way to reform the bad – such as French ATC strikes, is to keep Britain in Europe working with some of the more sensible countries like the Italians, the eastern European countries.

“(We must) deal with some of the idiotic members of the European Union, for instance the French, who believe that nobody should work and the Germans will pay for everybody.”