Thursday 24 January 2019

More delays loom as Ryanair pilots announce a fifth strike

Airline will cancel 20 flights, with 3,500 passengers affected

Kenny Jacobs has apologised to Ryanair customers. Picture: Bloomberg
Kenny Jacobs has apologised to Ryanair customers. Picture: Bloomberg
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Irish-based Ryanair pilots have announced their fifth one-day strike since July 12.

The pilots, who are also striking today, confirmed last night they will refuse to work next Friday, August 10.

A total of 20 flights will be cancelled on that day, with 3,500 Irish passengers' travel plans affected as a result of the strike.

Ryanair pilots from Belgium and Sweden have already announced a strike for the same date.

German pilots union VC has supported the industrial action, while pilots in the Netherlands have done likewise, although no details of what action will be taken by either have yet been revealed.

It comes as talks between unions and the company have made little progress.

Pilots have made 11 demands on issues including the allocation of transfers, leave and promotions.

The union says that it gave Ryanair sufficient warning of strike action.

"For over a month, the union has said that industrial action is likely to continue until there is substantial movement on the pilots' reasonable demands for an agreement on a fair and transparent approach to base transfers and related matters," a statement from the union Fórsa said.

"In the 19 days since the first one-day strike took place, company management has agreed to just two hours of talks, despite Fórsa's repeated assurance that it is available for discussions at any time."

The union claimed the airline's "escalation of the dispute" on July 25, when it "threatened to sack" 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew, or transfer them to Poland, led to a hardening of resolve among its staff.

"There cannot be a resolution to this dispute if management persists with its pre-condition to talks, which is virtually unprecedented in similar situations across Irish industrial relations," the union's statement read.

"On a number of occasions in recent weeks and months, there have been suggestions that third-party facilitation could assist in reaching consensus on issues of disagreement.

"Fórsa has repeated to the company that it is willing to explore this option."

Ryanair said yesterday almost 200,000 of its customers were affected by 1,000 flight cancellations in July.

It blamed repeated air traffic control staff shortages in the UK, Germany and France, adverse weather, and "unnecessary" pilot and cabin crew strikes.

However, it said its traffic grew by 4pc to 13.1 million customers.

"Our load factor remained strong at 97pc, on the back of lower fares," the company's chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said.

Responding to the announcement of a fifth day of industrial action, Ryanair said it condemned it. "Fórsa again rejected Ryanair's repeated offers to meet to resolve this dispute on Tuesday next," it said.

"Ryanair has already published details of Fórsa's 11 requirements, nine of which have been agreed.

"This fifth unnecessary strike by 25pc of Ryanair's Irish pilots proves that Fórsa have no interest in meeting Ryanair," the statement added.

The company said the gap between both sides was now "narrow" as it had already agreed to most of the pilots' requirements.

It said the offer to meet was now pointless and it would notify the 3,500 Irish passengers of 20 further flight cancellations on August 10.

Mr Jacobs offered the company's sincere apologies to those customers whose flights will be disrupted.

News of the most recent strikes comes after Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary waived his 2017 yearly bonus of €950,000 after some 20,000 flights were cancelled last year.

The crisis led to a U-turn at Ryanair which started negotiations with trade unions in several countries.

Irish Independent

Also in Business