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Brace for Ryanair strike chaos again after pilots vote for July 12 industrial action - holiday misery fears mount

By Anne Marie Walsh

Ryanair passengers face the prospect of summer chaos after pilots served notice of a 24-hour strike next Thursday - and threatened there will be more to come.

The move comes after pilots yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

The Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) said that 99% of over 100 directly-employed pilots who were balloted backed industrial action.

IALPA is a division of the FORSA trade union, which said the strike action will last for 24 hours beginning at 1am on July 12. It said the pilots backed industrial action over management's approach to transferring pilots between its European and African bases.

FORSA said it has told Ryanair that it will notify the airline of more strike days "in due course".

In a statement, Ryanair said it was "disappointed" by the strike notice, describing it as "unnecessary".

"Ryanair will communicate next Tuesday by email and SMS text with all customers travelling from Ireland next Thursday if this unnecessary strike goes ahead. In the meantime, we had again this morning (prior to this strike notice) invited FORSA to meet to resolve these issues at our Airside offices at 10am next Wednesday morning and we hope FORSA will take up this 19th invitation to meet.

"Since Ireland accounts for less than 7% of Ryanair flights, we expect that 93% of our customers will be unaffected by any Irish pilot strike next Thursday."

Pilots want those with the longest service to get first call on entitlements, including annual leave when their children are on holiday, promotions and transfers between bases.

IALPA claims that management has not accepted the directly-employed pilots' demand to set up a seniority list to determine how these selections are made. It says this is the norm at other airlines.

FORSA said a request for talks on the issue had been met with a threat to move Dublin-based aircraft and pilots to other airports and cut opportunities for promotion.

"Our member pilots directly employed by Ryanair complain that there is no transparent system for the determination of important matters including voluntary and involuntary base transfer, command upgrade, allocation of annual leave and promotion," it said. "When a pilot receives notice of a mandatory base change, or is denied a request for a change of base, such management decisions can have a devastating effect on family life."

It said it is seeking a seniority agreement to provide pilots with a fair and transparent mechanism to organise transfers.

However, FORSA said it is "willing to engage" on the issues identified in the notice of strike action. Demands by unions representing Ryanair staff are ramping up after the airline made a shock announcement last December to recognise unions to stave off a strike.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) expressed their concern at news of next week's strike. Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA, said, "We're deeply disappointed to hear of the decision by pilots to strike next week as this will effect the peak of summer travel, causing major distress for holidaymakers."

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