With less than 24 hours’ notice, thousands of Ryanair passengers flying to and from Germany found out yesterday afternoon that 150 flights were being cancelled due to a pilot strike which began in the early hours of this morning.
Pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), which only called the strike by the airline’s directly employed pilots on Monday night, said that all flights scheduled to depart from German airports over the 24-hour stoppage would be affected.
While Ryanair said it had written to passengers yesterday morning advising it would “try” to run its full German schedule today, it later confirmed that 150 out of 400 scheduled flights were being cancelled.
VC said it had been demanding improvements on pay and working conditions for its members for many months but Ryanair management had not issued an improved offer and negotiations had come to a standstill.
The union said it had invited Ryanair management to arbitration talks but accused the company of only trying to “stall” by issuing vague and meaningless statements.
A major sticking point is the choice of arbitrator. The union said it has suggested several suitable individuals but they were rejected by management.
Ryanair said it had proposed Kieran Mulvey, the man who mediated an agreement with the airline’s pilots here. It said he was familiar with all of the issues and was available to work immediately.
However, VC said an arbitrator must have sufficient knowledge of German law and, as Mr Mulvey could not be sufficiently informed in that regard, he was already not qualified to act in this case.
The union said agreements reached between Ryanair management and its Irish and Italian pilots could not be a blueprint for a solution in Germany.
Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said it was unacceptable that VC, without consulting with Ryanair’s pilots, threatened strikes and disruptions to its customers “when Ryanair pilot pay and conditions are substantially better than at other VC airlines such as Eurowings”.