Saturday 22 September 2018

Up to 10,000 passengers may be hit by pilot strikes at Ryanair

Ryanair pilots picket outside Dublin Airport. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Ryanair pilots picket outside Dublin Airport. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Anne-Marie Walsh

Up to 10,000 Ryanair passengers may be hit and 60 flights cancelled when pilots mount two more strikes later this month.

Pilots will walk out for another 24-hour stoppage next Friday followed by a third strike on Tuesday week in the wake of their first strike last Thursday.

They are demanding better terms and conditions.

The Irish Airline Pilots' Association branch of the Fórsa union added two more day-long strike dates to a campaign of rolling stoppages this week. Ryanair would not say what the likely impact of the rolling stoppages will be when contacted by the Irish Independent yesterday.

However, based on the impact of this week's strike, up to 10,000 customers could find their flights grounded.

It is unclear if European flights will be affected by the new strikes. Only UK ones were affected by the first stoppage.

So far, the airline has not issued guidelines for passengers.

A Ryanair spokesperson said the up-to-date position was that it would contact them "in due course when we receive details".

However, Fórsa said it served notice of the industrial action on the airline last Thursday.

A search for Dublin to London Stansted flights on the day of the next threatened strike on July 20 on the Ryanair website listed the status of the flight as "scheduled" yesterday.

Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said it was likely that Ryanair would again focus on saving its European flights from disruption, as it would lose more money if they were affected.

"The biggest problem now is that we're getting calls from hundreds of customers who are going on these particular flights, in the middle of the Leaving Cert holiday period," he said. "Their mammies and daddies are calling to ask what is happening because the teenagers are getting panicky."

He said the union and airline wasted seven hours in talks the other day, and got nowhere.

"It seems the problem is there still seems to be bad blood between the two parties," he said. "It's a standoff."

He said they should allow a third-party mediator or state industrial relations troubleshooting body to step in. "People will not book forward with this cloud hanging over them. They're playing into the hands of their competitors," he said.

Disruptive

Unions sources claimed the strike on Tuesday week would be very disruptive as the airline would have a very tight timeframe to get pilots back to their usual bases after the next stoppage.

Around 100 pilots who are directly employed by Ryanair mounted pickets last Thursday.

The pilots want a seniority system rolled out that would give those with the longest service priority when holidays, promotions and base transfers are allocated. But Ryanair's chief people officer Eddie Wilson has claimed that such a system would not work in the Irish pilots' favour.

Both sides say they are available for talks but no invitations were issued yesterday.

Irish Independent

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