Ryanair facing potential Europe-wide strike action this summer over salary, working conditions

Ryanair has halted talks with two Spanish unions. Photo: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

Eoghan Moloney and agencies

Ryanair has halted talks with two Spanish unions over a salary hike amid threats the airline's cabin crew could go on strike in several European countries during the summer season.

The airline walked away from the talks on Tuesday arguing the strike threat by European unions showed a lack of commitment to dialogue, Spanish unions USO and STCPLA said in a joint statement.

They accused Ryanair of acting in bad faith and said they sought to return to the negotiating table.

Ryanair did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Seven unions from Italy, France, Portugal, Belgium and Spain issued a statement in May warning that Ryanair's cabin crew in those countries could launch a strike this summer if the airline did not offer a "meaningful response" to their demands for better working conditions.

Close to 200,000 European aviation staff were made redundant and the scramble within the industry to regain staff to keep pace with the recovery of international travel has meant passengers have faced missed flights, hours-long security queues and chaos at airports all over the continent.

There was also a four-hour strike by cabin crew from 10am-2pm today, as pilots and flight attendants from airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet and others took industrial action over “arbitrary reductions of paychecks, the non-payment of sick days, the company’s refusal to grant leave during the summer season, and the lack of water and meals for the crew”, the Italian Federation of Transport Workers (FILT) and Italian Union of Transport Workers (UILT) said in a statement.

Around 360 flights have been cancelled with over 4,000 passengers affected, a spokesperson for the UILT said on Wednesday.

This will be only the first of a series of protest actions that will make the summer “hot”, the spokesperson said.

Passengers across Europe have endured delays and cancellations over the past week as airlines and airports struggle to cope with a rebound in travel at the start of the summer season.

The threat comes as the airline sector hopes to recover this summer from the impact of the pandemic.

Ryanair's group chief executive Michael O'Leary said in May bookings looked very strong for the summer and the load factor should gradually rise to 94-95pc in June-August, practically reaching pre-Covid levels.