herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Flight disruption fears as Ryanair's UK pilots to strike plan

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary

Holidaymakers are facing the risk of massive flight disruptions as Ryanair pilots in Ireland are set to back a strike move by their UK colleagues.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said 80pc of Ryanair pilots balloted in the UK voted in favour of going on strike for 48 hours starting on August 22 in a row over pay and conditions.

Crippling

They are set to follow this with a crippling 72-hour strike on September 2.

The results of a ballot of Ryanair pilots based in Ireland is due to be announced tomorrow. Industry sources said they are set to strike too.

In a letter to Balpa, Ryanair's director of HR strategy, Darrell Hughes, contends the ballot to strike was made by only 450 pilots - 36pc of its 1,250 UK-based pilots. He said it was not a credible strike mandate.

"Balpa should work with Ryanair to save UK pilot jobs, not endanger them through ill-timed and ill-judged disruption of our customers' travel plans, just 10 weeks before the threat of a no-deal Brexit," he wrote.

"We remain available for talks at your convenience."

The airline argues that no pilots should be threatening to strike at a time when Ryanair has already warned it could lay off 500 pilots company-wide amid weak fares, Boeing aircraft delays and potential economic shocks if the UK leaves the EU on October 31.

Balpa's general secretary, Brian Strutton, also kept the door open to talks.

Spoil

"We have had no formal offer from Ryanair. It is imperative that we resolve this dispute urgently to avoid strike action."

"No pilot wants to spoil the public's travel plans. At the moment it seems we have no choice."

Balpa said it wanted Ryanair to move on pensions and a transparent pay structure.

Last week, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary sent a video message to staff warning that 500 pilots and 400 cabin crew could be laid off starting next month.

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