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Ryanair expects minimal disruption from planned strikes

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Ryanair expects
minimal cancellations with affected passengers flying out at different times if
pilots in Britain and Ireland go ahead with a two-day strike next week, the
airline’s chief people officer said on Thursday.

Ryanair
staff unions in Ireland, Britain, Spain and Portugal have announced plans to
strike in the coming weeks, a year after an initial wave of strikes over pay
and conditions forced it to cancel hundreds of flights and hit its profits.

Members of
its British pilot union, which the airline said represents half of its pilots
there, voted last week to stage a two-day strike from Aug. 22, when directly
employed pilots in Ireland also plan a strike.

Unionized
Irish pilots represent less than half of Ryanair’s pilots in its home market.

“Our hope is
that we’re going to cover the majority of the operation both in the UK and
Ireland, and unless you hear from us, your flight is going ahead as normal,”
Eddie Wilson told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that planned action
by Portuguese cabin crew next week would be minor.

“We’ll be
protecting as a priority the summer destinations and there may be some
cancellations on multi-frequency routes between Ireland, the UK or on UK
domestics where people can make free changes, etc. There will not be travel
chaos.”

Responding
to the British Airline Pilots Association’s call on Thursday to meet for
mediated talks to resolve the dispute on pay and benefits, Wilson said Ryanair
was still waiting on the union to reply to a legal letter stating it had to
re-engage directly first, as per a deal struck last year.

Mediated
talks broke down on Wednesday in Ireland, where a series of one-day strikes
last year were quelled when concerns on transfers and promotions when settled.

Wilson said
on Thursday that subsequent union claims for increases in total earnings of
between 57% and 101% for some pilots were “off the wall,” particularly at a
time when “the world is falling apart aviation-wise.”

Asked if
there had been any impact on bookings, Wilson said that while talk of strikes
could worry some potential customers, the holiday season of August is the time
of the year where the airline has its highest number of advance bookings.

He also
confirmed reports from unions that Ryanair is likely to close its base in Faro
and two in the Canary Islands as part of plans to cut is presence on the ground
in airports due to delays in the delivery of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX.

A final
decision has yet to be made on how many bases, jobs and routes will be cut as a
result, Wilson added.

Source: Reuters

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