Tuesday 21 November 2017

'We have them on their knees': 350 pilots at Ryanair urged to join union

Irish customers are urged to check policies

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O Leary. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Ryanair’s CEO Michael O Leary. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Ian Begley

Ryanair passengers hit by flight cancellations are facing further aggravation as insurance firms refuse to cover their travel costs.

The airline is cancelling more than 2,000 flights until the end of October, leaving many of its customers out of pocket.

Ryanair has already offered affected passengers refunds or alternative flights, along with up to €400 compensation under EU legislation.

However, many will still be at a loss due to other costs, such as hotel bookings, car rentals and tickets for events.

A source from Insurance Ireland said it was up to customers to see what their travel insurance policy covers them for.

"The only thing we could say is that the customer would have to check with their insurer to see what they're covered for.

"It all depends on the type of policy people take out and it can depend on the insurer as well.

"If anyone has a query about what they are and not covered for then my recommendation would be for them to contact their insurer directly.

"We wouldn't know what every insurers' policy criteria is so it's up to each person to check in advance what they're covered for," he said.

In the UK, the 'Telegraph' reported that a survey of travel insurers found that most standard policies will not cover "consequential losses" which result from flight cancellations.

Meanwhile, an international federation of more than 700 transport unions has warned that Ryanair's rejection of staff demands is putting the airline's future in doubt.

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) said the carrier's business model must now reform and warned that it would work with unions to improve their terms and conditions.

It said the emergence this week of a more co-ordinated approach from workers will "expedite access to improvements".

The union umbrella group claimed it had been approached by investors who were concerned by analysts' estimates that compliance with a recent European Court of Justice judgment will hike Ryanair's labour costs by up to 20pc.

It has been estimated that the ruling, which means crew can bring court proceedings in the country where they are based, could cost Ryanair €100m, although more conservative estimates say it would push up costs by 5pc.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said investors were beginning to question the sustainability of the airline's "aggressive and cost-cutting business model".

"Ryanair is at a crisis point, facing a triple whammy of being taken to task by the ECJ, having mismanaged its flight time obligations, and lost consumer and staff confidence," said Mr Cotton.

"These aren't random misfortunes."

He said for years representative bodies have called for improvements - from union recognition to improvements in pay and conditions.

Thousands of Ryanair pilots are set to hold crunch meetings across Europe this week as they prepare battle plans for a clash with management amid demands for improved working conditions and pay.

The Irish Independent understands that the meetings are likely to be held from tomorrow onwards.

Around 4,200 pilots work for Ryanair.

Following a weekend advert by the Texas-based Allied Pilots Association (APA) urging Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary to "rethink his approach" to dealing with pilots, pressure continues to be heaped on the airline's management. APA represents 15,000 pilots at American Airlines.

Mr O'Leary has said "hell will freeze over" before he will welcome unions into the airline.

Irish Independent

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