The complaint alleges France is breaking the law

Ryanair and Aer Lingus are among a group of airlines which have submitted complaints to the European Commission against France over its air traffic controllers' strikes.

The complaint alleges the strikes restrict the fundamental principle of freedom of movement within the EU.

The International Airlines Group (IAG) - Aer Lingus' owner - Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air have submitted the complaints.

The carriers are not questioning the right to strike, but believe France is "breaking EU law" by not enabling flights over the country during strikes.

It says: "Passengers on overflights are being denied their fundamental freedom to travel between member states not affected by strike action."

Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive, says: "The right to strike needs to be balanced against freedom of movement.

"It's not only customers flying in and out of France who are affected during French ATC strikes.

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive, Willie Walsh | Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images 

"Passengers on routes that overfly France, especially the large airspace that covers Marseille and the Mediterranean, are also subject to delays and massive disruptions. This affects all airlines but has a significant negative impact on Spain's tourism and economy."

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's CEO, adds: "Europe's ATC providers are reaching the point of meltdown with hundreds of flights being cancelled and delayed daily either because of ATC strikes or because Europe's ATC don't have enough staff.

"When Greece and Italy have ATC strikes, overflights continue as normal.

"Why won't France do the same?"

According to Eurocontrol, more than 16,000 flights had been delayed by June this year due to air traffic control strikes, affecting more than two million passengers.