Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair pilots suspend pre-Christmas strike

Ryanair pilots have suspended a pre-Christmas one-day strike, union bosses have announced.

Impact, which represents Irish-based pilots, has agreed to meet the low-cost carrier's management on Tuesday evening ahead of the planned strike on Wednesday.

Some 117 directly-employed Ryanair pilots are involved in the dispute, making up the majority of the firm's captains in Ireland - meaning any walkout would have severely affected flights.

The dispute is about winning independent representation for pilots in the company, Impact said.

In a statement, Impact said: "Impact has this evening suspended a planned one-day strike of Ryanair pilots next Wednesday after company management agreed to recognise the union as the representative of Irish-based pilots.

"The union has agreed to meet management on Tuesday evening, but says it is available to meet sooner.

"The union asked management to release its Ryanair pilot representatives to prepare for and attend the meeting.

"The union acknowledged the principled determination of Ryanair pilots, which it said had made this breakthrough possible, and said it looked forward to establishing a positive relationship with Ryanair company management.

"Impact added that it hoped the suspension of industrial action would remove any uncertainty for passengers intending to travel on Wednesday."

Impact said the union would make no further comment until after the meeting with Ryanair on Tuesday.

Ryanair said it would recognise unions for the first time as it also faces challenges from staff in Germany, Portugal, Britain and Italy.

The firm's chief operations officer, Peter Bellew, said: "Let's keep talking. Get people home quietly for Christmas.

"Union meetings planned next week and January."

It is the only time airline boss Michael O'Leary has extended such an invite to union leaders in the 32 years the company has been in business.

In October, Mr O'Leary wrote to his airline's pilots to offer them better pay and conditions after Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of flights.

The carrier admitted it had "messed up" the planning of its pilots' holidays.

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