Ryanair to cancel 30 Irish-UK flights on Thursday

Airline says all services from Ireland to Europe will operate normally during strike

Ryanair is to cancel 30 of 290 flights scheduled to leave Ireland on Thursday over a pilots' strike and has started communicating with affected passengers.

An estimated 5,000 travellers from the Republic to the UK will be hit, but the airline maintains that it can re-accommodate them on alternative services.

Ryanair plans to concentrate its cancellations on high frequency routes to give it the best chance of re-accommodating affected passengers.

Services from the Republic to Europe, mostly holiday destinations in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece, will take off as planned.

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Its chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said "families going on holidays and people coming back from those destinations will not be affected."

He added that the airline waited until two days before Thursday’s scheduled strike to inform customers as it hoped to avoid industrial action.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) employed by Ryanair plan to strike in a dispute over base transfers, promotions and annual leave.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ryanair contacted affected customers. “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,” the airline said

“We will do this by cancelling a number of flights on high frequency routes from Ireland to London and other UK province destinations where customers can transfer readily to other flights on Thursday or switch their travel to earlier flights Wednesday or later on Friday, Saturday or subsequent days.”

For customers travelling to the UK, Ryanair will also be assisting them with alternative transport on comparable operators (both flights and ferries) where there is some limited space available.

It said customers on these flights have received text and email notification of these cancellations and its customer service hours will be extended to help people with refunds and free transfers to alternative flights.

‘Check in’

“Customers travelling on a Ryanair flight to or from Ireland on Thursday, 12th July and who have not already received an email or text notification, then we expect their flight to operate and they should check in as normal at their departure airport,” it said.

Ryanair apologised to its Irish customers for “these regrettable disruptions which we have done our utmost to avoid”.

In the email correspondence, the airline said it tried to avert this disruption which it calls “unnecessary” given Ryanair pilots and their union Forsa has received written proposals on seniority, annual leave and base transfers, which are what Forsa claims are the reasons for this strike.

The email says the union has rejected “21 separate invitations to meet Ryanair to negotiate these documents”.

"We cannot rule out further disruptions in July and August," the email says. It repeats a claim made last week that some Aer Lingus pilots "wrote officially to the Dublin Airport Authority on June 25th - some 10 days before the results of the Ryanair pilot ballot were known - to advise that they were "contemplating a series of 1 and 2 days strikes in July and August".

Pat Dawson, the chief executive of the Irish Travel Agent's Association (ITAA) said there was sense of relief that more passengers would not be caught up in the dispute.

“While these cancellations will affect 30 flights to the UK, we feel a sense of relief that holidaymakers to Europe will not be impacted by this strike. We hope that while prospective travellers to the UK are experiencing disruption to their flights, adjustments can be readily made to travel plans and they receive the customer support they require.”

He repeated the ITAA’s call for “reconciliation between pilots and the airline to reduce the threat of further action, which is very unsettling for Irish holidaymakers.”

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor