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Fresh travel chaos as Ryanair pilots announce more strikes

By John Mulligan

Travel plans for holidaymakers have been thrown into further chaos after a section of Ryanair pilots announced another two strike dates.

In an escalation of its industrial dispute, the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) branch of the Forsa union decided last night to add two more day-long strike dates over the next fortnight.

This means passengers flying in and out of the Republic on Friday, July 20 and Tuesday, July 24 could be in line for disruption.

IALPA said that some "common ground" was reached in the dispute on Wednesday, but that not enough progress was made to prevent an escalation of strike action, which will begin at 1am on both days.

The union and management agreed that a joint working group could help parties agree on a fair and transparent method to govern base transfer arrangements and related matters.

However, they "failed to reach agreement on the terms of reference for such a group", IALPA said in a statement.

Close to 100 Ryanair pilots in the Republic staged their first ever strike yesterday, remaining grounded in a dispute over employment conditions.

Yesterday's action saw Ryanair cancel 30 flights, primarily services between the Republic and the UK.

It's understood that Ryanair requested pilots in countries including Spain to provide cover in the Republic yesterday for the strike, and that some of them refused.

Ryanair's chief people officer Eddie Wilson criticised trade union Forsa for seeking what he said were a number of adjournments during last-minute talks on Wednesday between the two sides.

He also claimed that union demands for a seniority agreement for the promotion of pilots would not work in Irish Republic-based pilots' favour.

Mr Wilson also called on unions to accept the offer of working groups to address any grievances.

"We respect but regret the decision of 25% of our Irish pilots to go on strike, but believe that they should take up our offer of working groups so we can resolve these issues," the airline said.

The ballot for yesterday's and future strike action was only open to staff Ryanair pilots who are union members.

All but one of the 95 ballots were in favour of action.

Ryanair said it remains ready to engage with the union in further talks.

A Spanish trade union has said that a planned strike by Ryanair cabin crew there later this month needs to have a "massive turnout" or they will lose the "only leverage" they have over the airline.

As many as 1,500 Ryanair cabin crew members in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium are expected by unions to strike on July 25 for 24 hours.

Another 24-hour strike will be held on July 26 by cabin crew from Belgium, Spain, and Portugal.

"It is of the upmost importance that this strike is successful and has a massive following," the Spanish trade union Sitcpla told its members in a circular.

It added: "If we fail to ground aircraft, the company in the future will not take into consideration our demands as they will think we are bluffing.

"We will lose the only leverage we have as workers."

The unions are acting due to a dispute over pay and conditions at the airline.

Each Ryanair aircraft requires four cabin crew under aviation rules.

An aircraft also requires a senior cabin crew member.

Belfast Telegraph

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