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Around 75,000 passengers will be affected by Ryanair strike in Spain

Public Works Ministry says the budget airline must guarantee up to 59% of domestic and international flights, and 100% of flights to the islands

Ramón Muñoz
Ryanair cabin crew members are striking next week.
Ryanair cabin crew members are striking next week.PAUL FAITH (AFP)

Ryanair estimates that around 75,000 passengers will be affected by flight cancellations to and from Spain on July 25 and 26 due to a planned cabin crew strike. The low-cost carrier said in a press release that up to 400 flights will be grounded in Spain over the course of both days.

The cancellations also affect flights to and from Portugal and Belgium. On Thursday, the Irish airline said on Twitter that more than 85% of affected passengers have already rescheduled their flights or applied for refunds.

The airline is maintaining its 2018 growth forecast for Spain despite the planned cabin crew strikes

The Spanish Public Works Ministry has set minimum services that the company must meet to comply with national legislation. Ryanair will have to guarantee 100% of domestic flights between the mainland and the Balearic and Canary Islands, as well as between 35% and 59 % of flights on routes between Spanish cities, and 59% of flights to international destinations, according to the ministerial resolution, to which EL PAÍS has had access.

The decision affects 1,807 cabin crew members who had been asked to strike by the unions USO and Sitcpla, regardless of whether they are on Spanish or Irish work contracts.

Relations between management and the unions have been tense, making a negotiated solution ahead of next week unlikely. Ryanair said that rumors that it was threatening to walk out of Spain were “fake news.”

Despite these two days of strikes, the airline is maintaining its 2018 growth forecast for Spain, where it expects to end the year with 41 million passengers, a 7% rise from last year, said marketing director Kenny Jacobs.

Guaranteed flights

For domestic mainland routes, Ryanair will have to guarantee 35% of flights wherever alternative transportation means travel times of under five hours. When it is upwards of that figure, the airline will have to ensure 59% of scheduled flights.

Ryanair must also guarantee 100% of domestic flights between the mainland and the Balearic and Canary Islands, and 59% of flights to or from international destinations.

Jacobs said it is just a matter of time before an agreement is reached. Ryanair has recognized cabin crew and pilot unions in Germany, Italy and Britain in December.

The Public Works Ministry said its minimum coverage figures are based on the fact that the strike is taking place in the middle of the summer season, making it difficult to rebook passengers onto other flights. It also noted that tourists who have purchased packages that include air travel and hotel accommodation risk losing some of their services if their flight is delayed.

Ryanair will not pay affected customers any compensation beyond their ticket refund, alleging that the strike represents an “extraordinary circumstance” that falls outside the requirement of paying out between €250 and €600 for cancellations, according to European air passenger rights regulations.

The Spanish Public Works Ministry, however, is insisting that the budget airline should pay the compensation because it failed to inform passengers about the cancellations with advance notice of at least 15 days, and because the industrial action has been called by its own staff, which does not constitute “an extraordinary circumstance outside Ryanair’s power.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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