Saturday 19 January 2019

Ryanair in plea to pilots as families face strike chaos

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

A strike on Thursday by almost 100 Ryanair staff pilots based in Ireland "looks inevitable", according to trade union Fórsa. There was no contact between the two sides over the weekend.

But Ryanair still doesn't know which flights it will have to cancel during the 24-hour strike. The airline operates dozens of flights in and out of Dublin alone on a typical summer's day, carrying thousands of passengers.

Ryanair has scrambled to find replacements for the pilots who will be striking this week.

It has urged cockpit crew who are not striking and who are not rostered to work that day to volunteer for duty.

"In order to minimise disruptions to our Irish customers, we need to plan what services we can operate next Thursday," it told pilots in a circular.

"So we need to know in advance who will attend or volunteer for duty next Thursday.

"We hope to maximise the number of flights to/from Ireland to help our customers and their families, many of whom will be flying on their annual summer holiday."

Pilots have been asked to respond to the plea by 9am today.

While Ryanair has pointed out that just 27pc, or 94 of its 350 pilots based in Ireland, voted to strike, all but one of the 95 staff pilots who were balloted for action voted in favour.

Only staff pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (Ialpa) - a division of trade union Fórsa - were entitled to vote. The majority of Ryanair's pilots in Ireland are contractors.

The airline's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, has branded the planned strike as "blackmail", in a letter to staff. He claimed that the planned action had "no democratic mandate whatsoever".

The pilots are striking over terms and conditions, including a demand for transparency in relation to how first officers are promoted to captain.

Ialpa has also complained that Ryanair's current system of promoting first officers to captains typically includes a mandatory base change, even if there are captain roles available in the first officers' existing bases.

Ryanair has insisted that it has addressed the issues raised in written proposals sent to Fórsa.

It has also said that it remains ready to thrash out issues with the union at the airline's headquarters any day before Thursday. But both Fórsa and Ialpa have insisted that any such meeting must be held at a neutral venue.

A Fórsa spokesman said yesterday that this remains the union's position. He confirmed that there had been no contact between the sides over the weekend and that the strike now looked inevitable. Ryanair has urged Fórsa to cancel Thursday's planned strike.

The airline is also facing strike action by cabin crew based in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium over demands for concessions in relation to their conditions of employment.

Irish Independent

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