Ryanair strike: One in six flights cancelled in pilot walkout

Ryanair pilots on strike in Dublin last month

Ryanair is bracing for its biggest-ever one-day strike on Friday (Aug 10) with pilots based in five European countries set to walk out, forcing the cancellation of about one in six of its daily flights at the height of the holiday season.

A total of around 400 flights Europewide have been cancelled due to the strike action, AFP reported - equating to around 55,000 passengers.

Pilots in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Ireland also joined in the action.

Ryanair has said that strike action will hit average fares because it takes up seats that it could otherwise have sold at a high last-minute price.

Ryanair has refused to issue a list of the flights cancelled, but The Times understands that at least 50 departures from the United Kingdom have been called off, with more than 250 cancelled in Ireland.

Ryanair, which is based in the Swords area of Dublin, called the strikes "regrettable and unjustified" and urged unions to come back to the negotiating table.

"Ryanair alone is responsible for the escalation we are now seeing", Cockpit president Martin Locher said earlier this week.

Ryanair, which averted widespread strikes before Christmas by agreeing to recognise unions for the first time in its 30-year history, has been unable to quell rising protests since over slow progress in negotiating collective labour agreements. But since then it has struggled to reach agreements.

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Ryanair is expected to see earnings of over €1.25 billion in 2018, and continues to say it has "far lower costs per passenger than its competitors".

A spokesman said that despite the walkouts, 85% of Ryanair's scheduled flights, more than 2,000, would operate as normal.

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.

At a Frankfurt press conference on Wednesday, Ryanair's chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the company's German pilots enjoy "excellent working conditions". "They all received a 20% pay rise this year".

"In its update, Ryanair said: "[We] took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund, or reroute options.

Shares in the airline were 1.4 percent lower at 13.36 euros by 0825 GMT, having fallen 18 percent since the action ramped up in mid-July to stand well below the 14.21 euros they slumped to in December when Ryanair shocked markets by recognising unions.

Peter Scherrer, deputy secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation, said he welcomed today's cross-border show of unity by pilots because it made it harder for management to ignore their demands.

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