Festive flights chaos is averted after Ryanair recognises pilot union
Ryanair pilots have suspended Wednesday's planned one-day strike after management agreed to recognise their union as the representative of Irish-based pilots, Impact said.
The union released a statement saying it has agreed to meet Ryanair management tomorrow evening, a day before the proposed industrial action.
Last night's development will ease worries for passengers planning to fly home for Christmas.
"The union asked management to release its Ryanair pilot representatives to prepare for and attend the meeting," said Impact.
"The union has agreed to meet management on Tuesday evening, but says it is available to meet sooner.
"The union acknowledged the principled determination of Ryanair pilots, which it said had made this breakthrough possible, and said it looked forward to establishing a positive relationship with Ryanair company management."
The airline had offered to meet the union the day before the planned strike, but industry observers feared that would not allow enough time to reach a deal to prevent travel misery.
Ryanair had planned to publish contingency plans today in order to "minimise disruption" for passengers in case a strike did go ahead.
"We apologise sincerely to our customers for any worry or concern that this threatened action, during Christmas week by a small number of very well-paid pilots, may cause them. Rest assured that we will do everything we can," the airline said in a statement published on its website.
Ryanair said it would recognise trade unions as pilot representatives for the first time in a dramatic reversal of its policy on industrial relations.
However, it maintained that it would ask unions to establish "committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere".
That led pilot unions in Italy and Portugal to call off planned strikes, but Irish pilot union IALPA said it wanted to meet the airline before abandoning its plan for industrial action.
Speaking on Today FM, Niall Shanahan, a spokesman for Impact, which is the parent union of IALPA, said: "We indicated to Ryanair on Saturday that we were happy to meet them on Wednesday as they originally suggested but that we wouldn't be in a position to consider suspending the intended industrial action until we'd met them.
"They suggested a meeting on Tuesday evening as opposed to Wednesday morning, and again we're happy to do that, but similarly, we're not in a position to consider the status of the industrial action until after we've met them."
Ryanair's chief operations officer Peter Bellew said yesterday: "Let's keep talking. Get people home quietly for Christmas. Union meetings planned next week and January."
In October, chief executive Michael O'Leary wrote to his pilots to offer better pay and conditions after Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of flights.