INDUSTRIAL ACTION

Ryanair cancels more than 80 flights in Spain due to pan-European strike

The figure represents 40% of all planes grounded by the low-cost airline as a result of the work stoppage

A Ryanair counter in Lanzarote.
A Ryanair counter in Lanzarote.R. M.

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has cancelled more than 80 flights to and from Spain on Friday due to a strike called by cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The figure represents 50% of the 158 flights grounded by Ryanair as a result of the work stoppage.

Valencia is the region most affected by the strike with 18 flights to the city of Valencia and 10 to Alicante cancelled. Palma de Mallorca is the second-hardest hit with 14 flights grounded.

Ryanair cancelled flights between Valencia and cities in Portugal, Italy, Brussels and the United Kingdom, flights to and from Cologne and Dusseldorf to Alicante and Girona, flights between Palma de Mallorca and three German cities, two connections between Madrid and Porto in Portugal and a connection between Malaga and Frankfurt. Around 870 cabin crew staff in Spain joined the industrial action.

Around 870 cabin crew staff in Spain joined the industrial action

Ryanair maintains that all affected passengers were informed of the cancellations via email or text message with three days’ notice and offered information about alternative flights and how to get a refund their ticket.

Ryanair unions called today’s strike to protest the company’s policy of putting all its workers on Irish contracts rather than following local legislation, demands that have been backed by the European Union. Union representatives say they have “not ruled out” holding a strike every month until Ryanair accepts their conditions.

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, has blamed the strikes on rival airline staff and called for an investigation into what he called “anti-competitive behavior.”

At 10am this morning unions took stock of the strike, stating that Ryanair had canceled nearly 20 flights more than the 64 that were planned. “They did not give out correct information about minimum services, and some employees have not come to their place of work, which has caused additional cancellations,” said Antonio Escribano, from the Sictpla union. As many as 12,000 passengers may have been affected by the strike, according to union sources.

Escribano added that no flights had left Tenerife due to the lack of communication over minimum services, and that in the Canary Islands, staff had been brought in from Belfast in order to be able to offer services. Escribano described this practice as “clearly illegal.”

No compensation

The budget airline has refused to pay out compensation to passengers for the disruption the cancellation may have caused. European regulations stipulate that passengers who have had their flight cancelled with less than two weeks’ notice are eligible to claim between €250 and €600 in compensation, depending on the length of the flight.

But Ryanair argues the cabin crew strike is an “exceptional circumstance” that is out of their control, meaning they are not responsible for any damages. This was the same response the company gave in July when mass walkouts forced the airline to ground hundreds of flights.

Spain’s State Air Security Agency (AESA), which works under the Public Works Ministry, does not agree with Ryanair’s view and has demanded the company compensate affected passengers.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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