Ryanair shares fell marginally yesterday on news that its Italian-based pilots are headed for strike action later this month and rival carrier Easyjet saying it will increase competition in the German market, which is seen as the next battleground for international low-cost operators, writes Geoff Percival.
Italian pilots union Anpac said its members working for Ryanair are scheduled to strike for four hours on December 15; the latest fallout from the airline’s September rostering failure which led to 700,000 customers being affected by flight cancellations.
In October, Ryanair said that its rostering problems would not affect its full-year earnings but would result in the company improving how it pays and treats its pilots.
Ryanair does not recognise unions and has long managed to avoid industrial action. However, pilots have mobilised in the wake of the September problems.
The Italian strike is to take place from 2pm to 6pm on the day in question. Anpac has 280 members, representing around 40% of the Ryanair pilots based in Italy. Anpac said it was not yet clear how many of its pilots were scheduled to fly at that time.
Ryanair’s shares were down by nearly 0.5% yesterday.
Meanwhile, Easyjet has said it will start competing with Lufthansa on domestic German routes from Berlin next month, following its planned takeover of parts of insolvent Air Berlin.
Easyjet currently flies from Berlin’s Schoenefeld Airport to destinations outside of Germany, but the Air Berlin deal will see it move into the larger inner-city Tegel Airport.
The British carrier said it plans more routes from Tegel for the summer flying season, which begins in late March. Easyjet will therefore go head-to-head with Lufthansa’s airlines in competition for German business customers.
Ryanair didn’t bid for Air Berlin and also suspended its sole German domestic route after its rostering problem but it too is set to expand in Germany. It is prepared to take over slots at Tegel and base nine aircraft there, which will enable it to almost double its annual passenger numbers at Tegel to 10m, it said last week.
According to a Ryanair statement this is the sixth time FIT/CISL or ANPAC has announced strikes by Ryanair pilots, only to postpone/cancel them later.
They went on: "We expect this latest threatened strike will also be postponed/cancelled since both FIT/CISL and ANPAC are Alitalia unions with no role in Ryanair."