Strikes could ground up to 400 Ryanair flights on Friday

Irish pilots among those taking action with bulk of trips affected going to and from Germany

The German pilots will join their Irish, Belgian, Swedish and possibly Dutch colleagues on the picket line as the airline continues to fight union demands. Video: Reuters

 

Ryanair faces a wave of strikes on Friday when German pilots join Irish, Belgian, Swedish and possibly Dutch colleagues on the picket line, forcing the cancellation of almost 400 flights.

The German pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), confirmed on Wednesday that it would hold a one-day strike at Ryanair on Friday, affecting “all” of the airline’s flights that are scheduled to depart from the country’s airports.

Ryanair said the move would force it to cancel 250 flights to and from Germany, which it is thought could affect about 42,000 passengers, although the airline did not confirm this estimate.

The airline has already cancelled 146 other flights on Friday ahead of pilot strikes due to be held in Ireland, Belgium and Sweden. Ryanair said it had reaccommodated or refunded the 25,000 passengers reckoned to be affected.

Overall, the four strikes will hit 396 flights out of a total of 2,400 (some 16 per cent) that Ryanair is scheduled to operate across Europe on Friday.

The Netherlands union, VNV-Dutch Alpa, on Wednesday night announced plans to strike on Friday. However, it is understood that Ryanair intends taking legal action on Thursday to prevent this. The case’s outcome is likely to be known this afternoon.

The airline pledged to contact customers hit by the German cancellations to offer them refunds, move them to the next available flight or reroute them.

Pay increase

Correspondence between Ryanair and VC indicates that German pilots are seeking a 42 per cent pay increase. Martin Locher, the union’s president, said that VC was demanding improvements in pay and working conditions but did not give details of its claim.

Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, said that the airline regretted the “unnecessary” strike. He pointed out that the company had sent VC a revised proposal on a collective labour agreement last Friday and that the union had not responded to an invitation to meet on Tuesday.

“Our pilots in Germany enjoy excellent working conditions,” Mr Jacobs said. “They are paid up to €190,000 per annum and, as well as additional benefits, they received a 20 per cent pay increase at the start of this year.”

However, Mr Locher claimed that Ryanair had simply summarised its own negotiating position and shown no interest in finding a resolution to the dispute.

For about 100 of Ryanair’s 350 Irish-based pilots, on Friday will be their fifth one-day strike in a dispute over base transfers, promotions, leave and issues tied to seniority.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – part of trade union Fórsa – have accepted the company’s offer of mediation under industrial relations troubleshooter Kieran Mulvey. That process is due to begin next week.