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Ryanair tells pilots ‘don’t wait for late passengers’ as strike delays loom

‘It will be the stragglers, the families with pushchairs and the elderly who are struggling’ that will be affected, says anonymous worker

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 15 December 2022 14:50 GMT
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Ryanair planes
Ryanair planes (PA Wire)

Ryanair has instructed pilots not to wait for passengers delayed by upcoming border force and baggage strikes at UK airports.

The pilot told the Mirror that in the past, the budget airline’s pilots have routinely decided to wait a few minutes for passengers caught up in airports during other strikes.

However, they say the airline has re-issued strict instructions to pilots that they should “never” ask to delay a departure from the gate for this reason.

“It’s potentially a lot of people (who will be affected),” the unnamed pilot told the Mirror. “It will be the stragglers, the families with pushchairs and the elderly who are struggling. The busy family with young kids.”

“When these strikes take place, the strikes are going to cause even further delays in the airport, and that will compound the problem.

“Passengers will be delayed and be late to the gate. Ryanair is saying ‘Gates shut [with] 15 minutes to go’.

“Most of the pilots I’ve spoken to will happily wait the extra few minutes if there’s been a delay.”

The pilot also shared fears that arriving flights will have long waits for disembarkation, as queues of incoming passengers form at passport control.

“I expect the airport to either instruct or the situation to dictate that the passengers stay on the aircraft, because the terminal will be full,” the pilot said.

“The roster is very busy at Ryanair at the moment, very very busy. This is the busiest winter we’ve had in many years.

“These strikes can only make the situation worse.”

Travel chaos is expected from all sides into the new year, as a combination of UK rail workers, Heathrow ground handlers and Border Force passport staff strike over various dates.

Border force workers who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will walk out amid industrial action from 23 December until the end of the year, with the exception of 27 December.

In a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, the people who normally check passports and assess arriving travellers will walk out at the three biggest airports: London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester. They will also strike at Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow airports.

Meanwhile, hundreds of ground handlers at Heathrow Airport will go on strike for 72 hours on Friday (16 December) after talks over pay failed.

A further 72-hour strike will take place over the New Year period, starting on 29 December and ending in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

The Unite union said it had rejected a pay offer from Heathrow, saying what was put on the table was “miserable”.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “It is standard procedure that we close our boarding gates on time, so that we can deliver an on-time departure for the overwhelming majority of passengers that arrive on time.

“Due to Air Traffic Control staff shortages across Europe, if we miss our take-off slot, it could delay the flight by up to three hours.

“It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure that they arrive to the gate on time.”

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