RyanAir pilot strike grounds 400 flights across Europe

Kenny Grant
August 10, 2018

Disgruntled pilots from the five countries will walkout for 24-hours today, throwing holiday plans into chaos in the height of the summer season.

Pilots in France have not joined the strike, and most of the flights will directly affect passengers in Germany (accounting for around 42,000 of the 55,000 passengers expected to be affected).

The airline said it would be scrapping some 400 out of 2,400 European flights scheduled for today as pilots in Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands walked off the job.

But a court said yesterday Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands could not be prevented from doing so.

About 50,000 passengers are understood to have been told of cancellations on these flights - as reported by AP.

Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130million people last year, averted widespread Christmas strikes last year by agreeing to recognise trade unions for the first time in its 33-year history.

The Dutch pilot union, VNV, had earlier this week described today's strike as a "wake-up call" for Ryanair.

But there have been protests ever since over the negotiating of collective labour agreements.

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The airline said that over 2,000 flights, or 85 percent of the schedule, would operate as normal and that the majority of passengers affected have been re-booked on other Ryanair services.

Another key complaint of workers based in countries other than Ireland is the fact that Ryanair employs them under Irish legislation, arguing most of its employees work on board Irish planes.

Among other issues, they are also seeking changes to Ryanair's practice of moving staff to different bases without much notice, and a reduction in hours.

Staff claim this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country.

Ryanair has repeatedly said it remained open to further talks with pilot representatives.

The European Trade Union Confederation welcomed the cross-border action by the pilots, saying it made it harder for management to ignore the pilots' demands.

That was because the strikes were hurting bookings, Ryanair said, and although it was too early to assess the impact elsewhere, it added that the action will hit average fares from having to move customers to flights it could otherwise have sold at a high last-minute price.

'We want to again apologise to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling any more unjustified strikes'.

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