Ryanair executive claims Aer Lingus pilots to blame for ongoing strikes

Airline insists it is happy to talk to unions but only without ‘interference’ from competitor

Ryanair claim ‘one individual in particular’ from Aer Lingus is attempting to disrupt union talks. Photo: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Ryanair claim ‘one individual in particular’ from Aer Lingus is attempting to disrupt union talks. Photo: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

Ryanair is blaming pilots from Aer Lingus for scuppering efforts to resolve the escalating strike action at the airline.

Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer at Ryanair, said the carrier was happy to sit down with union representatives to try to stave off further travel disruption but that this must happen without “interference” from Aer Lingus staff.

“There are a small number of Aer Lingus pilots, and one individual in particular, who are trying to disrupt this,” he said.

“Ultimately that is what is causing damage to our business here in Ireland, that is what is causing disruption to people’s flights.”

Mr Jacobs claimed the small number of Aer Lingus pilots were “determined to damage our business and disrupt people’s travel plans”.

Asked on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland if he had any evidence to back up his claims, he said there is “plenty of evidence of this, there is documented evidence of it”.

Trade union Fórsa – which incorporates the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – has denied any Aer Lingus pilots are involved in the industrial dispute at Ryanair.

Fórsa spokesman Bernard Harbor said only Ryanair pilots and full time union officials with no connection to any airline are involved.

“There is no interference from Aer Lingus there,” he said.

Fourth strike

Ryanair has said a fourth one-day pilots’ strike next week will hit 3,500 of its passengers. Around 100 members of Ialpa plan to strike next Friday in a dispute over base transfers, promotions, leave and other issues. Ryanair has cancelled 20 of the 300 flights scheduled for that date as a result. The cancelled services will be between the Republic and the UK.

Ryanair’s announcement came as the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, appealed to the airline and the union to find a way to resolve the dispute.

He said they should think about the impact on passengers who ultimately pay the wages of pilots, cabin crew and management, as well as shareholders’ dividends.

Mr Varadkar said it was ultimately a commercial decision “for any business as to how many flights they’re going to run or how many staff they need to staff those planes”.

“I am very concerned at the escalation in the Ryanair dispute, particularly the impact it’s going to have on holidaymakers – on everyday people who have spent months saving up for their holidays,” he said.

Ryanair said this week that the strikes’ impact on Irish bookings and fares was one of the reasons its board approved a reduction in its Dublin fleet to 24 from 30 next winter, with the potential loss of 300 jobs.

Meanwhile, the International Transport Workers’ Federation said that strikes by Ryanair cabin crew in Belgium, Portugal and Spain over the last two days may have caused the cancellation of 20 per cent of the airline’s flights across its network. However, the airline has said the cabin crew strikes would affect about 12 per cent of its flights.