Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Ryanair strike: One in six flights cancelled in pilot walkout

Ryanair strike: One in six flights cancelled in pilot walkout

Tens of thousands of passengers have had their flights cancelled as Ryanair pilots across five European countries launched a mass walkout.

In response to unions serving strike notices, Ryanair had announced the cancellations of 250 flights in and out of Germany, 104 to and from Belgium and another 42 in Sweden and its home market of Ireland, where around a quarter of its pilots were staging their fifth 24-hour walkout. The majority of customers affected have already been re-accommodated on another Ryanair flight. There are four canceled flights between Stockholm and Alicante and Barcelona.

Unrest among pilots and staff since 2017 has forced the Ryanair management to acknowledge workers' unions for the first time - something it had previously refused to do. The budget airline has so far canceled 400 flights affecting over 70,000 passengers across Europe.

Germany's powerful Cockpit union accused Ryanair of "categorically" ruling out higher personnel costs for cockpit crew, leaving no room for a compromise.

'Ryanair alone is responsible for the escalation we are now seeing, ' Cockpit president Martin Locher told a press conference on Wednesday.

But the Haarlem District Court yesterday ruled against the airline.

"We expect the company to lower profit guidance for FY19 as it lowers capacity, on both strike disruption and crew shortages, and see weaker unit revenue trends as strike-affected traffic is redeployed on to operating flights and as passengers book away from what is now a less reliable travel option than usual", HSBC analyst Andrew Lobbenberg said.

In the Netherlands, around 22 flights from Eindhoven airport could potentially be affected, the ANP news agency reported.

A Dutch court rejected a case from Ryanair seeking to block pilots in the Netherlands from joining Friday's strike, but the Irish airline said all of its flights there would run as scheduled.

The unprecedented simultaneous strike action is the latest headache in a turbulent summer for Europe's second-largest airline. A year ago it agreed to recognise unions for the first time but it is in a dispute over collective labour agreements.

The company is eyeing profits of around €1.25bn this year, and boasts lower costs per passenger than its competitors. They would have the option of a refund, rebooking on the next flight or rerouting.

The unions want the contracts of Ryanair employees to be governed by the laws of the nation where they are based, not by Irish legislation. This can mean staff based in other European states are unable to gain access to state benefits.

Ryanair says it has made every effort to resolve the dispute.

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

It has already threatened to move part of its Dublin fleet to Poland, which could cost 300 jobs, including 100 pilot positions.

"Today our members are on strike to demand their rights".

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