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Ryanair strikes - live updates: Hundreds of flights cancelled amid largest walkout in company's history

Staff in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands stage 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions

Around 50,000 passengers are thought to be affected
Around 50,000 passengers are thought to be affected

Hundreds of Ryanair flights will not take off as planned today due to pilot strikes in five countries.

Staff in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are staging a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions.

The airline said 396 flights have been cancelled as a result, forcing passengers who planned to travel on Friday to rebook or take different routes.

Follow the latest updates below.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the Ryanair strikes. We'll bring you the latest updates through the day as tens of thousands of passengers face disruption.

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Hundreds of Ryanair flights have been grounded today due to pilot strikes in five countries.

Staff in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are staging a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions.

The airline said 396 flights have been cancelled as a result, forcing passengers who planned to travel on Friday to rebook or take different routes.

Ryanair planes have a capacity of 189, meaning more than 74,000 passengers could be affected.

The Irish budget airline said the strikes were "regrettable and unjustified" and called for unions to come back to the negotiating table.

The walkout is the biggest in the Ryanair's history, as The Independent's travel correspondent Simon Calder reports: 

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Ryanair has said that 85 per cent of its scheduled flights - more than 2,000 - were operating as normal today despite the strike.

In a statement, the airline said: 

Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options.

The majority of customers have already been accommodated on another Ryanair flight.

We want to again apologise to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling any more unjustified strikes.

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Union chiefs representing Ryanair staff striking today have said the industrial action could have been averted if the airline had agreed early to a third-party mediator overseeing talks. 

Forsa, which represents Irish workers, also claimed the company had used the threat of redundancy in a bid to "frighten pilots into backing down".

The union said in a statement: 

The company's belated recognition of the need for an independent third-party facilitator, which Forsa has been suggesting throughout this impasse, meant today's strike by Irish-based pilots went ahead.

This demonstrates the company's lack of experience of industrial relations.

Similarly, its threat of redundancies and compulsory transfers of Irish-based staff to Poland was a crude and ineffective attempt to frighten pilots into backing down.

Instead it had the effect - predictable to those well-versed in Irish industrial disputes - of reinforcing their resolve.

Forsa regrets the inconvenience that today's strike - and the four previous strikes staged by the airline's directly-employed Irish-based pilots - have caused to passengers and potential passengers.

Company management has previously attempted to paint its Irish pilots as outliers, saying that it was doing deals and conducting successful negotiations elsewhere in Europe.

The fact that the company is facing separate disputes in four other countries today - and experienced strikes by cabin crew in a number of jurisdictions a couple of weeks ago - shows that this is not the case.

The company is struggling with its industrial relations in many places.

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Walkouts by Ryanair staff in Germany and Belgium account of many of today's flight cancellations.

Unions representing German pilots had said this week they were joining the strike action with a 24-hour walkout, ending at 3am on Saturday, because they want pay and work conditions comparable to those at Ryanair's competitors. 

The company has pointed to recent pay increases and called for negotiations to continue instead of industrial action.

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Ryanair passengers have been taking to social media to vent their anger over cancelled strikes.

Some have complained about difficulties contacting the airline for information.

 

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An estimated 55,00 passengers have been affected by the strikes today, the worst single day of industrial action in Ryanair's history.

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

The airline expected the travel plans of 42,000 travellers to be hit by the action in Germany alone, with the majority of passengers switched to another Ryanair flight and the remainder either refunded or rerouted.

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Many passengers at Frankfurt airport, one of the key hubs affected by the walkouts, appear to side with pilots over Ryanair.

“What I find unjustified is that the pilots draw the short straw, because people want to fly cheaply,” said Daniel Flamman, one of several passengers at the airport who told Reuters they sympathised with striking staff..

“It’s annoying that it’s happening in the summer holidays, but it’s the only means they have," he added.

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The Civil Aviation Authority has urged passengers whose Ryanair flights are cancelled by strikes to claim compensation.

The Independent's Simon Calder has the lowdown on the rights of affected customers:

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