What is happening at Ryanair?

Q&A: What does pilot strike vote mean for passengers

If in doubt, prospective passengers should contact Ryanair.

If in doubt, prospective passengers should contact Ryanair.


What is happening in Ryanair?

Irish-based pilots with the airline have voted to strike for the first time in a dispute over an agreement governing seniority. They are planning a one-day strike for Thursday 12th July.

What does this mean for passengers?

It is not clear yet, but disruption seems certain for those travelling with Ryanair from the Republic on July 12th if the strike goes ahead as planned. The airline’s response says that this country accounts for just 7 per cent of its business, so 93 per cent of its customers will not be hit.

What should passengers do?

Ryanair pledged that if the strike goes ahead it will e-mail and text passengers due to travel from the Republic on July 12th next Tuesday July 10th.

Will next Thursday be it?

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) - part of trade union Fórsa - has indicated that there could be further strikes, although it has not said when. Sources say that if it the issue is not resolved, there could be a series of one-day stoppages.

How many Irish-based pilots are involved?

About 100 directly-employed members of Ialpa-Fórsa at Ryanair are involved, 94 out of 95 of them voted to take industrial action. Many of them are captains, without whom aircraft are not allowed fly. The airline has more than 300 pilots working for it in the Republic, and more than 4,000 across the company.

Is this Ryanair’s first pilots’ strike?

In the Republic, yes. Some German pilots held a short stoppage shortly before Christmas last year but Ryanair said this had no impact on operations. Cabin crew in Portugal have also held a number of strikes.

How has the airline responded?

Eddie Wilson, its chief people officer, wrote to Fórsa official Angela Kirk on Tuesday seeking a meeting for Wednesday July 11th.

Could Ryanair have a back-up plan to ease or eliminate the strike’s impact?

Some suggested that it could fly in craft, pilots and crew from other bases when it faced a similar threat from Irish and other pilot groups last December. However, it agreed to recognise unions, heading off potential strikes in several locations, so there was no need for a contingency plan.

What is the issue this time?

Pilots want a seniority agreement. This is a transparent system covering how they are allocated to particular bases, transfers, when they get annual leave and any other decision that should take into account their length of service.

What is Ryanair saying?

The airline has branded the strike “unnecessary”. The company gave Fórsa draft proposals covering recognition, base transfers, a seniority list for all Irish pilots and a new annual leave system based on seniority. Ryanair says that it has invited Fórsa to meet 18 times to discuss this, but the union has failed to reply or take up any of these invitations.

Why is there a problem if Ryanair agreed to recognise unions?

Pilots see these as specific demands, separate from trade union recognition, but tied to it. They say that seniority agreements are a normal part of airline industrial relations.

Could this spread beyond the Republic?

That is possible. Ryanair pilots in Germany are balloting on industrial action and are due to finish that by the end of this month, so there is a likelihood of unrest in other parts of the airline’s network.

Is there unrest among other Ryanair workers?

Cabin crew from around Europe are meeting in Dublin this week and that is likely to produce a “charter of demands” on Wednesday, although that event in itself is not going to lead to any specific industrial action.

What progress has Ryanair made since it agreed to recognise unions in December?

It has signed recognition agreements with the British Airline Pilots’ Association and Italian pilots’ union Anpac. It struck a similar agreement with Unite for cabin crew in Northern Ireland and Britain. The airline said yesterday that talks with other unions across Europe are progressing well.