Ryanair strike: 50,000 passengers have flights to Spain and Portugal cancelled

First cabin crew strike leads to 300 flights being grounded next Wednesday and Thursday

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 19 July 2018 09:33 BST
Ryanair strike: 50,000 passengers have flights to Spain and Portugal cancelled

More than 50,000 passengers booked on peak summer holiday flights have been told their trips have been cancelled.

Ryanair has cancelled “up to 300” flights in response to coordinated 48-hour strikes by cabin crew in Belgium, Portugal and Spain on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 July.

The staff are unhappy about a range of pay and conditions issues.

Most of the cancelled flights are to, from and within Spain, where around a quarter of the carrier’s 830 daily services have been grounded.

“Up to 50” flights starting or ending in Portugal and Belgium have been cancelled.

The airline said: “All affected customers have been offered re-accommodation on alternative flights during the seven days prior to 25/26 July, or the seven days after.

“Alternatively, these customers can obtain a full refund of their airfares.”

Ryanair’s customer service director, Bill Hutchinson, told passengers whose flights were cancelled: “We have continued our efforts over recent days to avert this strike and the disruptions it will cause, including our many invitations to cabin crew unions to meet with us to resolve their issues.

“However despite these extensive efforts on our part to avert these disruptions, the unions have continued to assert that they expect the strike to go ahead.

“We will defend our low fare business model because it is what gives our customers what they want more than anything else – the lowest fares in Europe.”

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Passengers whose flights are cancelled while they are on holiday are entitled to hotels and meals until the airline can get them home. If no Ryanair flight is available on the intended day of travel or the next day, the airline must buy a ticket on another airline, if there is space available.

Ryanair announced in December it would recognise trade unions.

A group called Cabin Crew United is coordinating the strike through the International Transport Workers’ Federation. A spokesperson said: “Ryanair has yet to provide any concrete improvement in pay and conditions for any workers across its network.

“It is clear that Ryanair has a long way to go before it wins a reputation as a good employer.”

Cabin crew have issued a list of 34 demands, ranging from “predictable working hours” to “not being forced to open an Irish bank account”.

Italian cabin crew have threatened to strike on Wednesday 25 July and Ryanair has yet to respond.

The airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “Ryanair sincerely apologises to our customers for these disruptions, which we have done our utmost to avoid.

“These strikes are entirely unjustified and will achieve nothing other than to disrupt family holidays and benefit competitor airlines in Belgium, Portugal and Spain.”

Mr Jacobs said Ryanair cabin crew get “great pay” of up to €40,000 (£35,700) annually and “industry-leading rosters” with 14 days off every month, as well as sales commission, uniform allowances and sick pay.

Pilots employed by Ryanair in Dublin are striking on Friday 20 July, one of the busiest days of the summer. Around 4,000 passengers have been affected by the cancellation of 24 flights.

A further pilots’ strike is scheduled for Tuesday 24 July.

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