Ryanair is facing the biggest industrial action in its history in peak summer season, disrupting hundreds of flights and affecting thousands of passengers.
The Irish low-cost carrier has cancelled 400 out of its 2,400 European flights scheduled for Friday as pilots in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden are on strike. This will affect 55,000 passengers or 15% of its schedule, according to the company.
Germany expects to see 250 cancellations.
Strike action will continue on Saturday; Ryanair is offering its customers rerouting or compensation. The company has tried to avoid strike action, trying to secure an urgent court order in the Netherlands. The company’s demands were rejected in court.
The industrial action in the summer of 2018 is the biggest in the company’s 33-year history.
In July strike action was driven by combined action by cockpit and cabin crews, cancelling 600 flights and affecting 100,000 travellers in Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. The cross-border action is now scaling up.
Since recognizing unions and collective bargaining in December 2017. According to the unions, by ruling out rises for cockpit crew, the company leaves no room for a compromise.
The company says its payroll should be compared to other budget airlines. Pilots want their earnings to become comparable to those in competing airlines. But, the company says it has already offered a 20% increase this year.
Moreover, all the personnel is demanding contracts in the countries they are based rather than Irish contracts. The reason is that Irish contracts mean they cannot access benefits available in their country of origin.
The company’s CEO Michael O’ Leary is now threatening to move part of its fleet from Ireland to low-cost Poland, threatening 100 pilot jobs.
Talking to the German regional broadcaster RBB on Thursday, the deputy secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation, Peter Scherrer, welcomed the Ryanair walkout saying that this strike showed what can happen when companies operating across Europe try to play workers against each other.
For 2018, Ryanair projects profits in the region of €1.25bn, despite surging fuel costs. The Irish carrier flies in 37 countries.