Ryanair passengers complain of being stranded across Europe during 24-hour strikes

  • Ryanair passengers complain of being stranded across Europe during 24-hour strikes

Ryanair passengers complain of being stranded across Europe during 24-hour strikes

Ryanair is facing its biggest strike yet on Friday, when pilots in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden plan to hold a coordinated 24-hour stoppage to demand better working conditions.

Hundreds of European flights have been cancelled, affecting about 55,000 passengers, 42,000 of them in Germany.

About 300 Ryanair flights were cancelled in July when cabin crews in Belgium, Portugal and Spain went on strike for 48 hours.

Europe's largest low-priced airline recognized unions in December, but talks have so far failed to produce agreements on improved working conditions, or for contracts to be governed by the laws of the country where workers are based, rather than by Irish legislation.

Ryanair has refused to issue a list of the flights cancelled, but The Times understands that at least 50 departures from the United Kingdom have been called off, with more than 250 cancelled in Ireland. Past year it agreed to recognise unions for the first time but it is in a dispute over collective labour agreements.

Belgium-based Ryanair pilots gather at Charleroi Airport as part of a European-wide strike.

"What I find unjustified is that the pilots draw the short straw, because people want to fly cheaply", said Daniel Flamman, one of several passengers Reuters spoke to at Frankfurt airport who said they sympathised with the pilots.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled will be informed by text or email, but all those travelling to and from the affected countries with Ryanair on Friday are advised to check with the airline. Labour representatives are seeking collective bargaining agreements in the different countries.

A spokesman said that despite the walkouts, 85% of Ryanair's scheduled flights, more than 2,000, would operate as normal.

But at about the same time Ryanair issued a statement saying there would be no cancellations.

Staff claim this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country.

He added that Ryanair had already offered a 20% pay increase this year, and that 80% of its pilots in Germany were now on permanent contracts.

A Ryanair spokesman said: 'Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options.

It also called on the striking unions to return to negotiations rather than "calling any more unjustified strikes".