Travellers wait in front of a passenger jet belonging to Irish discount airline Ryanair at Charleroi airport in southern Belgium. Picture: REUTERS
Travellers wait in front of a passenger jet belonging to Irish discount airline Ryanair at Charleroi airport in southern Belgium. Picture: REUTERS

Dublin — Ryanair proposed that a third-party mediator join talks with a trade union representing its Irish pilots who went on strike for a fourth time on Friday before wider stoppages planned around Europe next week.

The Fórsa trade union, which had called for such mediation, welcomed Ryanair’s response and said it would recommend it to pilots.

Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers agreed to recognise unions for the first time late last year but negotiations since have faltered. It has seen strikes in some of its biggest markets, including Ireland, Spain and Italy as it struggles to reach collective labour agreements with trade unions.

About a quarter of Ryanair’s 350 pilots based in Ireland have taken part in a series of one-day strikes and a number picketed in the rain outside Dublin airport on Friday morning.

Ryanair has limited the damage from the Irish strikes so far and said passengers on the 20 flights it cancelled from the 300 that flew in and out of Ireland on Friday were either put on another flight or refunded. However, it faces greater disruption next Friday with Irish pilots joining colleagues in Sweden and Belgium on strike, and Ryanair braced for action in Germany and the Netherlands on the same day. It has consequently canceled 104 flights to and from Belgium on Friday, August 10.

Ryanair said it had cancelled a further 20 flights to and from Ireland and 22 in and out of Sweden on the same day from the more than 2,400 it has scheduled across Europe that day.

Ryanair shares were down 0.1% at €13 by 2.30pm GMT, near two-year lows and well below the level hit in December when it shocked the markets by ending 32 years of refusing to recognise unions. While the Irish airline has signed recognition deals in some markets, it has failed to do so in others and not yet reached any collective labour agreements.

"This is part and parcel of life in aviation when you recognise unions," Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told Ireland’s Newstalk radio station, pointing to years of wrangling over pay and conditions at rival Lufthansa. "There is going to be disruption, it will be small, we will manage it … We are making progress around the rest of Europe, strikes can be part of that process; they are not helpful, but we will get collective labour agreements in place over the autumn in our key markets."

Reuters

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