08 Aug Ryanair strikes: all you need to know about pilots’ industrial action | Business
As hundreds of thousands of Ryanair passengers wait to hear whether their flights will be cancelled during five days of planned pilot strikes in the peak summer holiday period, we answer some of the key questions.
When are Ryanair pilots going on strike?
Ryanair pilots who are members of Balpa, the British pilots’ union, have voted to stage a 48-hour strike from 00:01 on 22 August until 23:59 on 23 August, and a 72-hour strike from 00:01 on 2 September until 23:59 on 4 September.
Which flights will be affected?
It’s not possible to say in detail but the fact that the striking pilots are all based in the UK indicates that flights to and from UK airports will be the only ones affected. That suggests that passengers using Stansted, Ryanair’s main UK base, can expect some disruption.
Not all Ryanair pilots are Balpa members and not all Balpa pilots will necessarily go on strike, so many flights will still go ahead. Ryanair typically drafts in replacement pilots in such situations, so expect the Irish airline to do everything it can to minimise the disruption.
But it’s highly likely that some flights will not take off and that passengers who have booked flights – or are thinking of doing so – should check with the airline. Ryanair has traditionally given passengers two or three days’ notice if their flight is cancelled.
What are the pilots’ complaints?
Their grievances are legion, according to Balpa, which cites disagreement about pensions, insurance against loss of pilot’s licence, maternity benefits, allowances; and a fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure.
Balpa does not disclose how many Ryanair pilots it represents but says 72% of its membership turned out for the ballot, with 80% voting in favour of walkouts.
What’s the background?
For many years, Ryanair simply refused to recognise trade unions. That changed at the beginning of 2018 following a monumental blunder by the airline: it somehow mismanaged its pilot rostering schedule and was forced to cancel hundreds of flights. Suddenly, it required the goodwill of its pilot cohort to limit the damage and, not long after, agreed to recognise unions. But old habits die hard and relations between the chief executive, Michael O’Leary, and his pilots has remained fractious.