Ryanair’s German Pilots Join Widespread European Strikes

Aug 8, 2018

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Low-cost carrier Ryanair is facing more strikes from employees in Europe.

This time, pilots in Germany are joining the demonstrations that are sweeping the budget airline’s workforce this summer as staffers demand better pay and work conditions. The Dublin-based carrier said it would have to cancel 250 flights to and from Germany on Friday because its pilots in the country will walk out of work for 24 hours, beginning Friday morning.

Irish, Belgian and Swedish pilots had already planned to strike Friday as well, adding on 146 flight cancellations to Friday’s total. Ryanair operates about 2,400 flights in Europe everyday, CNBC reports.

In late July, Ryanair cabin crew workers in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium orchestrated a two-day strike, forcing the carrier to cancel about 600 flights during the peak summer travel season. At least 50,000 passengers were affected by the two-day walkout.

The labor unions that organized the strike in July claimed that “employees are hired by Ryanair or its subsidiaries under contracts governed by countries where they are not based, reducing their leave allowances, causing wage disparities and impeding the workers’ access to state benefits,” the AP reported.

Ryanair is refusing to compensate the tens of thousands of passengers whose flights were canceled as a result of strikes. Under the legislation EU261, airlines are compelled to give EU passengers compensation for long flight delays. Passengers are also entitled to €250 (about $291) when a flight is canceled without two weeks’ notice. That is in addition to a refund or new flights.

But the budget airline says the “union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control,” a stance regulators say is incorrect.

Amid a looming global shortage of commercial pilots, other airlines began attempting to poach Ryanair’s disgruntled cockpit crews and even its flight attendants, too. A talent acquisition manager for British Airways, for instance, posted on LinkedIn that the airline has reopened its pilot recruitment program “in light of industry news today.”

It’s unclear how Ryanair plans to scale in the future with a widespread pilot shortage beginning to take hold worldwide. If the carrier is short pilots, it will have to begin cutting routes (which means fewer fares and less revenue), as Emirates learned earlier this year when it was forced to start cutting flights due to lack of pilots.

Friday’s strike will be the fifth demonstration by the airline’s Ireland-based pilots since July 12.

Featured image by ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images.

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