Saturday 21 September 2019

Ryanair passengers still facing threat of disruption

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh and Aodhan O'Faolain

Ryanair passengers still face the threat of disruption today despite a court decision to block strikes by Irish-based pilots.

The High Court yesterday granted Ryanair an injunction preventing 180 pilots from striking for 48 hours from midnight last night.

But the airline lost a similar bid at the High Court in London to prevent strikes by its UK-based pilots scheduled over the same days.

Ryanair said it expected to operate its full schedule of flights to and from UK airports today and tomorrow.

However, it said it "cannot rule out some small flight delays and/or flight changes".

"We are working hard with our pilot teams to minimise any such delays for our customers and their families," it said in a statement.

The British pilots' union, Balpa, said Ms Justice Lambert rejected Ryanair's arguments and agreed that its industrial action ballot and procedures were lawful and so the strike can proceed.

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However, it offered the airline an olive branch to avoid the need for strikes by returning to talks.

Meanwhile, Irish-based pilots are expected to return to talks chaired by mediator Kieran Mulvey after the High Court's blow, which will have repercussions for unions.

But parent union Fórsa said it would not be in a position to "consider its next steps" until it has the court's ruling in writing and has considered it fully.

It has informed pilots the strikes planned for today and Friday in a row over pay and conditions will not take place.

Ryanair said the ruling would come as a "huge relief" to thousands of families.

It said all flights scheduled to depart today and tomorrow from Dublin, Cork and Shannon would operate as normal.

It said the pilots should explain why they were seeking 101pc increases for Ryanair captains who already earn more than €172,000 a year.

Fórsa agreed pay increases for Aer Lingus pilots of 9pc over three years, or an average of 3pc a year, it said.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Denis McDonald said he was satisfied from the evidence that Ryanair was entitled to orders against Fórsa, preventing the pilots from striking.

He found Ryanair "made out a fair issue" that requires a full hearing. He was satisfied Ryanair had raised a fair issue, including that the proposed strike breached an agreement the parties signed last year.

It claimed that agreement, following industrial action last July and August, was entered into following mediation.

Fórsa argued the 2018 agreement only concerned issues that arose between Ryanair and the union members last year and has nothing to do with the current dispute relating to pay.

While the court was not making any findings in relation to these conflicting arguments, and the union had made strong submissions, Mr Justice McDonald said the airline had raised a fair issue to be tried.

Irish Independent

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