Ryanair strike hits 55,000 passengers across Europe

Kenny Jacobs chief marketing officer of Ryanair during a news conference in Frankfurt Germany

Kenny Jacobs chief marketing officer of Ryanair during a news conference in Frankfurt Germany

Despite the walkouts, 85 per cent of its scheduled flights, more than 2,000, will operate as normal, Ryanair said.

The Irish budget airline said around 55,000 passengers would be affected by the strikes, and they have been offered refunds or the option of rerouting their journey.

Another customer said she would miss work meetings and a doctor's appointment due to a cancelled flight.

"For decades Ryanair has refused their employees basic labour rights most employees on the labour market take for granted, but here a strike is necessary to show the airline that it no longer can avoid treating its employees in a dignified manner", Martin Lindgren, President of the Swedish Pilots' Union, said in a statement.

The airline will hold talks via a mediator on Monday with the Irish pilots union, which said it had no current plans for further strikes.

"They tweeted: "£ryanair cancelled my flight in the last min because of pilots strike.

A Dutch court on Thursday evening rejected a case from Ryanair seeking to block pilots in the Netherlands from joining the strike, affecting about 22 flights.

The action is the largest in a series of strikes over pay and conditions.

Staff are holding a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions.

The unions are demanding a raise in salaries, unions say, alongside the issuing of more secure working contracts that are valid in each pilot's country of residence (which they claim does not always happen).

The unrest is one of the biggest challenges to face long-term chief executive Michael O'Leary, who was once quoted as saying he would rather cut off his hand than recognise unions and on another occasion crossed a picket line of baggage handlers to help load a plane.

Customers were notified as early as possible and a majority of those affected had already been moved to another Ryanair flight, the airline added.

Unions have strongly condemned what they see as Ryanair's attempts to play countries off against each other.

In an open letter to transport commissioner Violeta Bulc, the federation said the EC had a duty to prevent "social dumping" - where companies take advantage of lax employment legislation in different countries - and warned there are risks of new traffic disruptions "in the weeks and months to come".

"We want again to apologise to customers affected by this necessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling anymore unjustified strikes".

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