Monday 20 May 2019

Ryanair insists threatened strike 'likely won't take place'

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary. Photo: Reuters
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary. Photo: Reuters

Ralph Riegel

RYANAIR insisted the biggest threatened strike in its history likely won't take place on September 28 - as the airline said it expected to have comprehensive agreements in place with all pilots and cabin crew throughout its European bases over coming weeks.

The budget airline faces industrial action by cabin crew in five EU countries on September 28 in the latest bout of labour unrest within the airline.

However, Ryanair marketing director Kenny Jacobs insisted there was every chance the industrial action in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands may not proceed.

The airline has now agreed a framework for a deal with unions representing the bulk of its Italian cabin crew.

Mr Jacobs said he expected comprehensive labour deals in all Ryanair markets by Christmas.

"I expect we will get to Christmas with deals done with everyone - and that takes away the uncertainty," he said.

"The risk of disruption will go away - we will do deals with the unions."

"Some 90pc of Irish pilots have accepted the deal so you now see a very stable situation in Ireland."

"Across Europe it is the same - we have deals done with all of the big pilots unions and cabin crew unions."

"We will make further progress across the rest of the autumn. We think the situation is stable and that there may not be a strike on September 28."

"If there is, it will be small and it will not be successful."

"Ryanair's management and board are serious about working with unions. I think we have done an incredible job - we are only recognising unions for nine months. In those nine months we have deals done, collective labour agreements, with pilots and cabin crew unions in most of our markets."

"We have made incredible progress in nine months."

"Once we have the rest of these deals done, it takes away the risk of disruption caused by strikes."

"Other than that, life goes on, bookings go on and our customers keep booking cheap fares with us."

He acknowledged the airline had faced industrial turmoil this summer - but denied that it had any significant impact.

"We have had a number of strikes over the summer," he said.

"No flight to or from Cork was cancelled. We did have some disruption in Dublin. But we now have an agreement in place with our Irish pilots so we don't expect disruption in Ireland."

"Across the rest of Europe - this morning we announced we have an agreement in place with the Italian cabin crew."

"We haven't received notification of a strike on September 28. If there is a strike - and there may not be - if there is one we will manage the disruption which will be very small. Customers don't need to be worried."

"Like every strike that we have had, 96pc of Ryanair flights operate normally."

"When there are strikes and they don't work, it is better for the unions to come and talk to us."

"They have caused minimal disruption."

He insisted a far bigger issue were delays encountered at their core Stansted base - an issue it has already raised with UK authorities over extra resources for air traffic control etc.

"Stansted is not related to strikes - Stansted had an unique summer because Europe had an unique summer caused by disruption. That disruption was caused by air traffic control shortages and strikes by French air traffic control personnel."

Mr Jacobs said that while Stansted accounted for roughly 15pc of London's air traffic, it had almost 50pc of flight delays.

He again insisted the industrial turmoil over recent months has had no impact on Ryanair's passenger numbers.

"When you have fares from Euro 35 across Europe across the full year, that will keep customers coming back to Ryanair. That doesn't change."

He said the airline is preparing for a bumper 2019 season - and have already confirmed a 20pc expansion of their Cork presence with a likely increase in passenger numbers from 900,000 to more than 1.1 million.

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