Talks near as Ryanair pilots set to strike

Anxious holidaygoers will today learn of what contingency plans Ryanair will put in place to offset the impact a pilots’ strike will have on flights this Thursday.

While both sides of the dispute yesterday moved closer to holding talks aimed at resolving the dispute, the pilots’ union warned that it expects the planned strike will go ahead in two days’ time.

The industrial action is over seniority issues, with the Irish Air Line Pilots Association (IALPA), a branch of Fórsa trade union, calling on Ryanair to put in place transparent processes for determining matters such as base transfers, annual leave, and promotions.

Ryanair said it uses over 350 pilots at its three Irish bases in Dublin, Cork, and Shannon and that just 94, or 27%, of these voted to strike on Thursday.

The strike action will be taken by about 100 Irish pilots who are directly employed by the airline.

Last night it appeared that Ryanair and the union had made progress on agreeing on a venue to hold talks.

Ryanair had previously said it had extended 20 offers to meet the union at its offices. However, Fórsa had insisted talks be held at a neutral venue, for which the union will pay.

Last week Ryanair said it will only enter into negotiations held at its own headquarters, “free from media circuses”.

But in a letter to the union yesterday, Ryanair said it would be willing to hold talks in a meeting room within Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport either today or tomorrow at 10am as a gesture of good faith.

Meanwhile, Fórsa also wrote to Ryanair yesterday to propose a neutral venue that would remain confidential in order to allay concerns expressed by Ryanair that a meeting between the parties would risk becoming a “media circus”.

However, in a statement yesterday evening, Fórsa said it expects that Thursday’s scheduled industrial action will go ahead.

Ryanair had previously set a deadline of today by which time they will email and text passengers due to travel if the strike had not been averted.

While the number of flights affected by the strike remains to be seen, the Commission for Aviation Regulation has issued its advice to passengers as to what rights they have when flights are delayed or cancelled.

Passengers who have their flights cancelled because of the strike must be given one of three options.

They must be given either a refund, the option to be re-routed to their destination as soon as possible, or the option to be rerouted at a later date at their convenience.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has said thousands of flights across Europe are facing delays because of shortages in air traffic controllers. It said 68 of its first wave of 441 flights yesterday morning were delayed due to shortages in Germany, France, Italy, Greece, and the UK.

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