Business World

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ryanair takes action over Spanish strike disruption

Ryanair was forced to cancel 500 flights, impacting on 75,000 passengers over a two-day period as more than 2,000 air traffic controllers walked out, virtually shutting down Spain's airspace. Photo: Bloomberg News
Ryanair was forced to cancel 500 flights, impacting on 75,000 passengers over a two-day period as more than 2,000 air traffic controllers walked out, virtually shutting down Spain's airspace. Photo: Bloomberg News
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair is to take legal action against Spain's government-owned airport operator and a union whose members engaged in wildcat strikes that caused chaos at the beginning of the month.

The airline was forced to cancel 500 flights, impacting on 75,000 passengers over a two-day period as more than 2,000 air traffic controllers walked out, virtually shutting down Spain's airspace.

The strikes infuriated Spain's government, which placed air traffic control in the country under military law, enabling anyone who failed to follow orders to be court-martialled.

Court action has already begun against state-owned airport operator AENA, with a group representing 5,000 passengers as well as hoteliers and airlines vying for compensation. Those passengers are seeking €10,000 each, far higher than the €600 that has been offered by AENA.

Ryanair is targeting the USCA union, AENA as well as airspace safety body AESA.

Legislation

The airline called on the European Commission to eliminate the 'right to strike' from essential services such as air traffic control and to reform passenger rights legislation.

So far in 2010, Ryanair said it had been forced to cancel 2,500 flights and delay 13,000 -- disrupting 2.5 million passengers -- because of industrial action in Spain, France and Belgium.

AENA has already initiated disciplinary proceedings against more than 400 air traffic controllers as a result of the strike. That action could result in staff being subject to either fines, suspension or being fired.

Some air traffic controllers in Spain earn up to €1m a year. In Ireland, the average annual pay is €160,000.

Ryanair also said yesterday it had finalised responses in respect of all claims made by people affected by flight disruption due to volcanic ash earlier this year. More than 90pc of claims have been settled so far. Ryanair set aside €32m for claims.

Separately, the carrier has said it will no longer engage in consultations with the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) regarding the setting of aviation charges.

It described the consultation process as a "regulatory sham", claiming the regulator had no independence and that consultations were "meaningless". The CAR declined to comment.

Irish Independent

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