Monday 16 July 2018

Up to 5,000 Ryanair passengers have flights cancelled by first pilots' strike

Kenny Jacobs. Photo: Tom Burke
Kenny Jacobs. Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

Up to 5,000 Ryanair passengers will be hit by flight cancellations in a 24-hour strike by pilots tomorrow.

Ryanair is grounding 30 flights out of 290 due in and out of Ireland.

But it is only those travelling between Ireland and the UK who will be hit by the stoppage.

All flights between Ireland and European airports will take off as normal.

The industrial action that begins at 1am tomorrow will be the first by Irish-based pilots in the airline's history.

They are demanding that Ryanair draws up a 'Master Seniority List' they claim is the norm at other airlines. This would mean pilots with the longest service getting first call on holidays, promotions and transfers to other bases.

The company said it could not rule out further disruption this month or next.

The Irish Air Line Pilots' Association has advised its members to get financial advice "due to the likelihood of industrial action continuing over a prolonged period". Ryanair apologised for the "regrettable" disruption and said it had done its utmost to avoid it.

A negotiating team from the airline is meeting pilot union representatives for talks today.

However, the union said the strike is still likely to go ahead.

Ryanair said: "We regrettably must plan for some disruptions on Thursday, and try to minimise their impact, especially upon Irish customers and their families travelling on holidays to Portugal, France, Spain, Italy and Greece."

Ryanair is cancelling flights on high frequency routes from Ireland to London and other destinations such as Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

It said these are routes where customers could transfer "readily" to other flights today, tomorrow or at the weekend.

Customers on cancelled flights got text and email notifications yesterday. Those who did not get a notification but are flying on Thursday should check in as normal.

"Ryanair pilots have already secured a 20pc pay increase, earn up to €200,000 per year, work five days on followed by four days off, enjoy rapid promotions and unmatched job security," said Ryanair.

The airline blamed some Aer Lingus pilots whose airline would benefit from the disruption for organising the strike.

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said most flights will operate as scheduled, with the number cancelled representing 10pc of Irish traffic and 1pc across Europe.

Fórsa said strike action is a "last resort", adding: "They know it's bad news for passengers, for the airline, for Ireland's economy and tourism sector and for pilots themselves. But they feel they have been forced into this action by a company that is either unwilling or simply unable to negotiate a fair and transparent deal like any other decent employer."

Irish Independent

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