Friday 17 August 2018

At least 25,000 Ryanair passengers to be hit by cancellations on Friday as pilots in Netherlands and Germany set to join strikes

Pilots in Germany and the Netherlands are expected to announce they will join colleagues in Ireland, Belgium and Sweden for a 24-hour stoppage. Photo: REUTERS
Pilots in Germany and the Netherlands are expected to announce they will join colleagues in Ireland, Belgium and Sweden for a 24-hour stoppage. Photo: REUTERS

Anne-Marie Walsh

At least 25,000 passengers will be hit by cancellations as Ryanair pilots in up to five countries walk out this Friday.

Pilots in Germany and the Netherlands are expected to announce they will join colleagues in Ireland, Belgium and Sweden for a 24-hour stoppage.

So far, Ryanair has scrapped 146 flights due to the strike. Up to 3,500 passengers will be hit in Ireland, where the budget carrier has cancelled 20 of 300 flights.

Another 104 flights to and from Belgium will be grounded and 22 in Sweden. And the tally is set to rise if pilots in Germany and the Netherlands join in.

Ryanair has refused to pay compensation, which is worth €250 per person for UK flights, because it claims the strikes are an extraordinary circumstance.

However, the Commission for Aviation Regulation has encouraged passengers to claim it even if they received refunds or were accommodated on other flights.

If Ryanair turns down their request, they can appeal the decision to the regulator.

German pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit is holding a press conference today to reveal if it will join the industrial action.

A spokesman for the Dutch pilots' union VNV said it is likely to reveal its intentions tomorrow. The spokesman said it only has to give up to 12 hours' notice to the airline.

Ballots

However, the British Airline Pilots' Association confirmed it cannot take part in the strike because of the requirements of UK industrial relations law on ballots and notice.

A strike by the pilots in the UK would hit Ryanair badly as it represents a quarter of its pilots and planes and is home to its biggest base at Stansted.

City Index senior market analyst Fiona Cincotta predicted the strikes will hit Ryanair's profits in its next set of results. She said Ryanair shares have been slumping since the announcement of the pilots' strike in Ireland, Sweden and Belgium.

However, she added, shares have "reacted positively" every time Ryanair "talks tough" with the unions.

She said the airline has been "reacting aggressively" with cuts to its Dublin fleet, which were announced last month.

Ms Cincotta warned that tackling unions head on can be a very risky strategy as it can cause more employees to sign up and ultimately lead to wider strike participation.

"Employees are also aware of the terms and conditions in other cheap airlines. Ryanair will still need to compete for skilled staff against other discount carriers," she said.

She added that the "elephant in the room" for Ryanair is still Brexit, given its reliance on the UK as a market for many of its routes.

Irish Independent

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