Ryanair has pre-cancelled nearly 190 flights this Friday as it prepares for strike action by cabin crew in Spain, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Italy and Germany.
The Irish carrier says the strike – part of a long-running dispute over working conditions – is “unnecessary” and being taken by “a tiny minority of cabin crew”.
Cabin crew are unhappy about the fact that Ryanair employs them under Irish legislation rather than the rules of their home countries, which they say prevents them from receiving state benefits.
Staff also claim the carrier forces them to open Irish bank accounts to receive their salary, which allegedly has a negative impact on their credit rating.
Ryanair says it has agreed to move to local contracts and honour local laws and taxation “as quickly as possible in 2019” but has yet to reach a collective labour agreement on certain conditions.
The carrier has already reached agreements with some cabin crew and pilots in Ireland, the UK, Italy and Germany.
The cancellations this Friday affect 30,000 customers, all of whom the airline says have been contacted with an offer of a rebooking or refund.
Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer at Ryanair, said: “We sincerely apologise to those customers affected by these unnecessary strikes on Friday, which we have done our utmost to avoid, given that we have already offered these unions recognition agreements, Collective Labour Agreements, and a move to local contracts/law in 2019.
“When we can successfully do deals with unions in Ireland, the UK, Germany and Italy, why are some unions in Belgium, Holland and Spain not doing similar deals?”
Jacobs claims the strikes are “damaging Ryanair’s business” and customer confidence “at a time when oil prices are rising strongly”. He says if the strikes continue, the airline will be forced to “look again” at its capacity growth for this winter and summer of 2019.