Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair bid to halt pilot strike leaves customers in limbo

Report: Kieran Mulvey
Report: Kieran Mulvey

By Anne-Marie Walsh

Ryanair passengers booked to fly later this week are facing uncertainty as they wait to hear if their flights will take off due to the threat of a 48-hour strike.

They may not find out until the eve of the stoppage, from midnight on Thursday, as a High Court action in Dublin to prevent the industrial action drags on.

The court is not expected to issue a judgment until tomorrow after the airline sought an injunction to prevent the industrial action.

Around 180 members of the Irish Airline Pilots Association plan to walk off the job on the same day as UK-based pilots in a dispute over demands for better pay and conditions. Ryanair is also seeking a High Court injunction tomorrow to stop strike action by its UK-based pilots on August 22-23 and September 2-4.

Ryanair did not respond to a request for comment when asked when it would begin cancelling flights. Company sources promised "robust contingency" planning should the strikes go ahead so a minimal amount of flights would be cancelled.

The airline is seeking an order against Forsa, the parent union of the Irish Airline Pilots Association. Ryanair argued in the High Court that balloted strike action by some of their pilots was unlawful. Forsa is contesting the airline's application for an injunction.

Justice Denis McDonald began hearing arguments yesterday from Ryanair's legal representative Martin Hayden.

The airline claimed strike action would be in breach of an agreement both parties signed up to in the summer last year.

The airline also argues Forsa's ballot and subsequent notice of strike action was unlawful, and that the 2018 agreement is a "binding conclusion" and "over-arching".

Mr Hayden told the court Forsa has not actually quantified what it is claiming and Ryanair, although "not indisposed to making an offer", is prevented from doing so in the absence of such a request. "To make a counter offer you need to have something to counter," he said.

Justice McDonald disagreed with this assertion, arguing that this is not backed by mediator Kieran Mulvey in his report, but Ryanair's understanding of his report.

"I'm not asking for your understanding, I'm not seeing anything from Mr Mulvey saying Ryanair cannot make a counter proposal without further information from Forsa," Justice McDonald said.

Mr Hayden said the "damaging strikes" would not only affect Ryanair as a company, but many customers. "If I could say this, this is ultimately a pay request... that the go-to moment is a strike, it's a disproportionate response," he said.

The hearing will resume this morning, but a judgment is not expected until tomorrow.

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