Ryanair cabin crew protests across Europe have caused 600 flights to be cancelled with 100,000 passengers affected. The strikes come as more than 300 Ryanair staff in Ireland are warned they may lose their jobs.
Ryanair on Wednesday said it had issued potential redundancy notices to some 300 staff in Ireland, as cabin crews in Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Italy strike over working conditions.
Europe's largest low-cost carrier said in a statement that it had given 90 days' notice to more than 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew as it plans to cut its Dublin fleet from 30 to around 24 aircraft for this winter.
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The airline said there had been "a downturn in forward bookings and airfares in Ireland partly as a result of recent rolling strikes by Irish pilots" which "has had a negative effect on high fare bookings and forward air fares as consumer confidence in the reliability of our Irish flight schedules has been disturbed."
EU countries strike
Cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy were striking on Wednesday and Thursday over pay and work conditions, causing 600 flights to be canceled over two days, with 100,000 passengers affected.
The airline, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, avoided extensive strikes before Christmas by recognizing trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history, but hasn't reached an agreement on terms with several of them.
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Labour unions in Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Italy claim that employees are hired by Ryanair or its subsidiaries under contracts governed by countries where they are not based, which reduces their leave allowances, causes wage disparities and impedes the workers' access to state benefits.
In response to the accusations, Ryanair published salary slips for June on its website, arguing that pilots and cabin crew are fairly paid in Portugal, Spain and Belgium, the three countries most affected.
Unions say negotiations 'failed'
The two major unions representing pilots and cabin crews in Spain, USO and Sicpla, said negotiations with Ryanair over the contracts of more than 4,000 cabin crews across Europe had failed.
In Italy, protests were planned at airports where Ryanair operates and the Italian unions said they were seeking a collective contract that recognizes workers' rights but Ryanair has refused to negotiate with them.
"We apologize to the 50,000 Belgium, Spain and Portugal customers whose flights today were canceled," Ryanair tweeted on Wednesday.
It said all other scheduled flights were "operating as normal" on Wednesday, but air-traffic control staff shortages in France, Germany and Greece delayed 50 of the airline's 345 early morning flights.
law/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)