RyanAir pilot strike grounds 400 flights across Europe

Kenny Jacobs Ryanair’s chief marketing officer at a news conference in Germany yesterday

A walkout by pilots in five European countries on Friday, Aug. 10, has forced budget airline Ryanair to cancel nearly 400 flights, affecting about 55,000 passengers.

Pilots in Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are staging a 24-hour walkout over pay.

Ryanair, which in the Netherlands flies to holiday destinations such as Malaga in southern Spain, the Canary Islands and Ibiza, said it would have to axe around 400 out of 2,400 European flights scheduled for Friday, affecting 55,000 passengers.

The trade union representative argued that improving working conditions would inevitably also require higher personnel costs shouldered by the company for cockpit staff. Cockpit wants employer representatives to sign Ryanair's first ever collective wage agreement with staff and has already been negotiating on behalf of German pilots towards this end since January.

The airline has described the strike action as "regrettable and unjustified", and claims that its pilots are "paid more than other budget airlines".

The Irish airline, Europe's largest low-priced carrier, averted widespread strikes before Christmas by agreeing to recognise unions for the first time in its 30-year history.

The dispute regards negotiations between VC and Ryanair around a remuneration agreement and a more universal collective agreement, which considers aspects such as rostering.

The strike affects flights to and from Eindhoven Airport on Friday.

"In its update, Ryanair said: "[We] took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund, or reroute options.

He added that Ryanair categorically ruled out any such increases at talks.

Ryanair cancelled 16 of around 2,300 daily flights on after the third one-day strike by Irish pilots.

The organisation rubbished Ryanair's claim that the strikes were a case of force majeure, and said under European Union legislation passengers were entitled to between 250 and 600 euros ($285-$690) in compensation payouts.

Last week, flight compensation firm Airhelp claimed Ryanair is flouting the law by saying it did not have to provide compensation for flights cancelled by strikes.

The Irish airline, which a year ago carried its one billionth passenger, is Europe's biggest low-priced carrier. Irish pilots have held four strike days.

Ryanair did not respond to requests for a comment on the union's statement.

Jacobs said the airline is ready to continue negotiations and called on the union to remove the threat of strikes.

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