Passengers travelling with Ryanair in Germany saw little disruption from a four-hour strike called by pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit, with most flights leaving as scheduled, and only some delays.
Ryanair's efforts to avert its first ever pilots strike collapsed on Friday as pilots in Germany held a four-hour walkout although airports said there had been little impact on flights.
At Germany's busiest travel hub, Frankfurt airport, all six scheduled Ryanair flights left as planned, according to the DPA news agency.
Flights left mostly as planned at Berlin-Schönefeld airport as well, where seven departures were on the board. The 6.40 am flight to Italy's Bergamo, however, was delayed by five hours.
At the Cologne/Bonn airport in western Germany, at least one Ryanair flight to Copenhagen suffered from the strike action with passengers being told to expect a 10-hour delay.
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Nevertheless, Germany's pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said it was pleased with the response to its strike call, which had forced Ryanair to scramble to bring in pilots from abroad.
"The strike participation has been absolutely satisfactory," a union representative said. VC had asked Ryanair pilots to walk off the job from 0401 GMT to 0759 GMT in a battle for recognition from the airline whose workers have been calling for better pay and conditions across Europe.
Struggle for recognition
The Irish budget carrier had sought to avert a series of threatened strikes across Europe over Christmas by last week giving up its long-held opposition to recognizing unions.
However, the VC union said it would stage a brief walkout as it did not believe Ryanair was serious about recognizing unions or sincere in talks.
"This was a warning shot and we started small. However, there is potential for much more," union spokesman Markus Wahl said, however he ruled out further strikes until after Dec 26.
On Thursday, Ryanair refused to accept two members of a delegation that the union nominated to hold talks with management. One of the pilots was a contractor and one a direct employee. But Ryanair had ended both of their contracts, VC said.
"This has shown us that nothing has changed with Ryanair's management style or how it handles workers' rights," VC President Ilja Schulz told reporters.
However, Irish pilots' union IMPACT said Thursday the airline had confirmed in writing that it recognized the union as the representative of pilots at the airline.
The union said it will meet Ryanair management on January 3 to agree a comprehensive recognition deal that will establish collective bargaining procedures at the airline. As a result, the danger of industrial action by Irish-based pilots had receded.
uhe/nm (Reuters, dpa)