Reputation is key to every airline, but one of the largest LCCs Ryanair is ready to risk it over its rigid organisational culture and crude staff management practises. After carrier’s pilots based in Ireland announced a strike on the 12th of July, cabin crew from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium have followed with a walkout that is planned to halt flights on the 25th and 26th of July.

Since April, Ryanair has been subject to cabin crew and pilot unions’ demands, but instead of re-examining its practises, it has been blamed for not taking the case seriously. After Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) announced its decision for the 12th of July, Ryanair has responded with a plea to call it off, calling the pilot walkout ‘unnecessary’.

IALPA is fighting for a more transparent pilot transfer system between the airline’s Europe and Africa bases, which has negatively affected pilots’ family life. The rest of the crews in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium wish for a better pay, working conditions, clear rostering and supportive workplace culture, which at the moment features rigid disciplinary procedures and unachievable sales targets. The unions have issued a list of demands, but the carrier won’t agree. 

Europe’s largest LCC by passenger numbers carries about 130 million travellers per year. However, lately the leader’s position seems to be turning into a heavy cross to bear. 400 thousand of Ryanair’s passengers had their flights cancelled because of rota mistakes last September and another 210 thousand found their flights disrupted by air traffic controller strikes in June alone. Consequently, enduring Ryanair’s ignorance results in further flight disruptions. 

According to national service broadcaster in Ireland, RTE, a 24h strike on Thursday is likely to affect around 42 000 passengers, while cancellations during the late July walkout across Europe are still too vague to predict, but will go into hundreds of thousands.

Ryanair’s flight assistants and ground personnel from Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain established common demands for better working conditions and a raise in wage. Italian cabin crew will strike for 24-hour on July 25, 2018 and crew in Spain, Portugal and Belgium will hold a strike for 48 hours between July 25 and 26, 2018.

“This summer strike numbers are higher than the sum of the five previous seasons together. Ryanair has recognised trade unions to avert flight chaos in December, 2017, but instead of initiating an accord between its management and employees, the carrier chooses to ignore the negotiation and presented issues. Naturally unions have turned to the last straw to defend their demands – a strike,” comments Marius Stonkus, the CEO of flight compensation company Skycop.

In the wake of a strike announcement in Ireland, the airline has urged cockpit crew who are not taking part in the protests and who are not scheduled to work to volunteer and cover their colleagues so that Irish customers would not feel the disruption.

Those who will have their flights cancelled or delayed, unfortunately, will not be entitled to flight compensation, as the current EU law still recognises pre-planned strikes as “extraordinary circumstance”. Other disruptions that fall into this category and exempt airline form paying flight compensations ranging from €250 to €600 include extreme weather conditions, hidden manufacturing defects and other force majeure situations.

Although not eligible for flight compensations, travellers whose flight will be delayed for more than two hours should be treated according to the regulation. The European law demands carriers to supply meals, refreshments, provide access to the Internet and accommodation with transport to / from the airport if travellers have to wait overnight.

“Based on Eurocontrol, this summer flight disruption numbers jumped to highest since 2013 with poor weather conditions and walkouts in France, Italy as well as other European countries being the main reasons for tedious flight delays and cancellations. Today passengers in Europe suffer from weak airline management – carriers’ profits are on the rise, yet staff pay is that of economic recession. We support pilots and cabin crew over their requests, because it’s their psychological and physical health that ensures a pleasant and safe flights for all of us,” comments M. Stonkus.

Flight compensation company Skycop has set up a petition that it will take to the European Commission in order to exempt airline strikes from the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ category whatsoever. Petition argues that every employer is responsible that their staff would be satisfied with the work they do. Strikes are the final measure when all other options have failed to make the management negotiate. All airlines are well informed about planned walkouts having months to prepare or start a discussion.

All who agree with the statement that airlines should be made responsible for cabin crew, pilots and other carrier’s employees strikes can sign the petition by pressing on the link to here.

Time is ticking for Ryanair, one of the leading LCCs in Europe. After recognizing trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history, the airline hesitates to agree with its employee demands. Cabin crew across Europe urge Ryanair to adopt national employment laws for all workers, but carrier wants them to comply with Irish regulations. European unions representing cabin crew says that the carrier has time until 3rd of July to come up with a decision. Otherwise, Ryanair could break its own record for massive cancellations, as workers plan massive walkouts.