Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Ryanair strike hits 55,000 customers across Europe

Ryanair strike hits 55,000 customers across Europe

Tens of thousands of passengers have had their flights cancelled as Ryanair pilots across five European countries launched a mass walkout.

A walkout called by German union Cockpit accounted for many of Friday's cancellations.

At Charleroi Airport, Belgium's second largest and a major Ryanair hub in the region, striking staff gathered in the departure hall and held up banners reading "Ryanair must change- Respect us".

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said the dispute resolution service used by Ryanair had already confirmed it would uphold a previous European ruling that crew strikes are not usually considered "extraordinary circumstances".

Last month cabin crew on Ryanair flights serving Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Italy downed tools.

Ryanair, which averted widespread strikes before Christmas by agreeing to recognise unions for the first time in its 30-year history, has been unable to quell rising protests since over slow progress in negotiating collective labour agreements.

But Ryanair pilots say they earn less than counterparts at other airlines such as Lufthansa.

The unions want the contracts of Ryanair employees to be governed by the laws of the nation where they are based, not by Irish legislation.

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But the "once in a lifetime experience" of being at her best friend Justine's wedding seems impossible now, after Ryanair cancelled her flight with two days' notice.

Around 55,000 passengers would be affected by the strikes, said Ryanair, which has offered customers refunds or the option of rerouting their journey.

Staff claim this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country.

But Ryanair insisted in a statement that 'there will be no cancellations (of flights to and from the Netherlands) as a result of the unnecessary strike action by the Dutch pilot union'.

A Dutch court also rejected a case from Ryanair seeking to block pilots in the Netherlands from joining Friday's strike, but the Irish airline said all of its flights there would run as scheduled. "It is annoying that it's happening in the holidays but that is the only means they have", said one man at an airport in Berlin.

But its combative chief executive Michael O'Leary has also warned the airline may shift jobs and planes to more profitable areas if the turmoil continues.

Unions have strongly condemned what they see as Ryanair's attempts to play countries off against each other.

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