herald

Friday 17 August 2018

25,000 will be affected by Ryanair disruptions

So far, Ryanair has scrapped 146 flights due to the strike
So far, Ryanair has scrapped 146 flights due to the strike

Around 25,000 Ryanair passengers will suffer flight disruption as pilots in up to five countries walk out this Friday.

Pilots in Germany and the Netherlands are set to announce they will join their colleagues in Ireland, Belgium and Sweden for a 24-hour stoppage.

So far, Ryanair has scrapped 146 flights due to the strike and up to 3,500 passengers will be hit in Ireland after 20 of 300 flights were cancelled.

Another 104 flights to and from Belgium will be grounded, as well as 22 in Sweden. The tally could rise if pilots in Germany and the Netherlands join in.

Compensation

Ryanair has refused to pay compensation, which is worth €250 per person for UK flights, because it claims the strikes are an extraordinary circumstance.

However, the Commission for Aviation Regulation has encouraged passengers to claim it even if they received refunds or were accommodated on other flights.

If Ryanair turns down their request, they can appeal the decision to the regulator.

German pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit will reveal today whether it will join the strike, while the Dutch pilots' union VNV said it could reveal its intentions tomorrow and only has to give up to 12 hours notice.

The British Airline Pilots' Association, however, confirmed it cannot take part in the strike, which would hit Ryanair badly, as it makes up a quarter of its pilots and planes and is home to its biggest base at Stansted.

"Even if we were near to that stage with the company, it wouldn't be possible for us to join the strikes on that date due to having to ballot members first and having to give 14 days' notice to the company under UK law," said a spokesperson.

City Index senior market analyst Fiona Cincotta predicted the strikes will hit Ryanair's profits in its next set of results.

She said Ryanair shares have been slumping since the announcement of a pilots' strike in Ireland, Sweden and Belgium but said shares have "reacted positively" every time Ryanair "talks tough" with the unions, and threatened job cuts.

She said the airline has been "reacting aggressively" with cuts to its Dublin fleet announced last month and that tackling unions head-on can be a very risky strategy, as it can cause more employees to sign up and ultimately lead to wider strike participation.

Ms Cincotta feels Ryanair will still need to compete for skilled staff against other European discount carriers and that the "elephant in the room" for Ryanair is still Brexit, given its reliance on the UK as a market for many of its routes.

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