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Ryanair's Ireland-based pilots to strike days before Christmas potentially affecting thousands of flights

Julia Buckley
Tuesday 12 December 2017 15:59 GMT
Ryanair pilots due to strike December 20

Ryanair pilots in Ireland have announced strike action just days before Christmas.

Trade union the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association announced that a majority of its 84 Ryanair-employed members backed industrial action in a secret ballot which took place this weekend.

Ryanair was told of the strike - which will take place on 20 December - at lunchtime on Tuesday.

Although Stansted is Ryanair’s largest base, it is headquartered in Dublin, and the Irish strike is likely to cause disruption to flights during the busy Christmas period.

Ryanair has 360 pilots based in Dublin.

The Irish contingent join Ryanair pilots in Italy and Germany in voting for industrial action.

Italy-based pilots plan a four-hour strike this Friday, 15 December. Those working for Ryanair, Vueling and Alitalia will take part, as well as air traffic controllers. Ryanair will strike from 1pm to 5pm.

It is the second strike announcement for the Italians. Last month they planned a similar stoppage, but cancelled it at the last minute.

Today, German pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) announced that a Ryanair strike “can be expected at any time”. Pilots across the airline’s 87 European bases are campaigning for better conditions. Ryanair has offered pay rises, but fewer than a third of its bases have accepted.

The German trade union promised to avoid striking over Christmas, from 23-26 December.

But striking days beforehand will mean planes and crew in the wrong places, and the run-on effect could be disastrous for the holiday getaway.

Could Ryanair’s “pilotgate” spell the end of cheap flights?

Ryanair said in a statement: "Ryanair will deal with any such disruptions if, or when they arise, and we apologise sincerely to customers for any upset or worry this threatened action by less than 28 per cent of our Dublin pilots may cause them over the coming days.

"While some disruption may occur, Ryanair believes this will largely be confined to a small group of pilots who are working their notice and will shortly leave Ryanair, so they don’t care how much upset they cause colleagues or customers."

Calling IALPA the "Aer Lingus pilots union", the statement concluded:

"Ryanair will not recognise an Aer Lingus pilot union, no matter how often or how long this tiny minority (earning between €150,000 to €190,000 p.a.) try to disrupt our flights or our customers plans during Christmas week."

In a separate statement, Ryanair said about the German strike: “Ryanair has received no notification of any industrial action by its German pilots so we suspect this is more PR activity by the Lufthansa pilots group VC.

"If any such action takes place, Ryanair will deal with it head on, but we will not deal with or recognise the Lufthansa pilots union VC, regardless of what action – if any – takes place."

The airline said that it expects the Italian strike to be called off.

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