Ryanair pilot strike affects 14,000 passengers on Spanish flights

The low-cost airline has canceled nearly 400 flights across Europe on Friday due to industrial action in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands

Empty airport terminal in Berlin.
Empty airport terminal in Berlin.FABRIZIO BENSCH (REUTERS)

Ryanair is facing its biggest strike yet on Friday, when pilots in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden plan to hold a coordinated 24-hour stoppage to demand better working conditions. The budget airline has so far canceled 400 flights affecting over 70,000 passengers across Europe.

This includes 78 flights to or from Spain, a move that will affect 14,000 passengers. But the figure could rise to 82 flights if routes between the Dutch city of Eindhoven and the Spanish cities of Reus and Valencia are finally canceled, after a court said on Thursday that Dutch pilots may join the walkout. Ryanair had filed for an urgent court order to prevent industrial action by pilots in the Netherlands.

Ryanair flight information at Berlin airport on Friday.
Ryanair flight information at Berlin airport on Friday.HAYOUNG JEON (EFE)

This is the latest of several strikes by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew in under a month, and the first involving joint action by pilots from several countries. Irish pilots recently staged four one-day walkouts, while cabin crew in Spain, Belgium, Italy and Portugal went on strike on July 25 and 26. Europe’s largest low-cost airline recognized unions in December, but talks have so far failed to produce agreements on improved working conditions, or for contracts to be governed by the laws of the country where workers are based, rather than by Irish legislation.

There are nine flights between the Netherlands and Spain on Friday, but only the Eindhoven-Reus and Eindhoven-Valencia routes are operated by Dutch employees. A further 54 flights between Germany and Spain have been grounded, most of them from Frankfurt with destinations such as Alicante, Girona, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Madrid, Málaga, Palma and Seville. Flights between Düsseldorf and Alicante, Málaga, Girona and Palma have also been axed.

Belgium-based Ryanair pilots gather at Charleroi Airport as part of a European-wide strike.
Belgium-based Ryanair pilots gather at Charleroi Airport as part of a European-wide strike.JOHN THYS (AFP)

In Belgium, Ryanair has cancelled 20 flights: eight between Zaventem airport and Madrid and Barcelona, and 12 between Charleroi and Alicante, Almería, Santander, Seville, Tenerife and Zaragoza. There are four canceled flights between Stockholm and Alicante and Barcelona.

The Spanish airport worst hit by the strikes is Alicante, mainly due to the stoppage in Germany, followed by Palma, Madrid Barajas and Barcelona El Prat.

Ryanair said it has contacted nearly 25,000 affected customers to offer them refund or reroute options. The company insisted that it will not yield before this “unnecessary action” and “unjustified strikes.”

English version by Susana Urra.


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