How Will Ryanair Strikes Affect Your Holiday?
Many travellers and holidaymakers across the UK depend on the budget airline Ryanair to make their trips more affordable. With ongoing strikes resulting in thousands of flight cancellations over the last few weeks, this year’s summer holiday could be at risk for many Brits. Plenty of people have had problems with Ryanair flights in the past, but most passengers are willing to take that chance if it means saving some money on flights. However, the effect of industrial action across Europe on the future of Ryanair and the holiday plans of its customers isn’t looking too bright.
What is happening with the strikes at Ryanair?
Ryanair has proved to be struggling, with a slump in profits blamed on air traffic controller strikes in France earlier this year. The company has also blamed their falling profits on rising oil prices and having to increase staff wages. This is partly why Ryanair has been refusing to meet the demands of their pilots in Dublin, who have been striking for better condition and pay. Ryanair only decided to recognize trade unions at all in December 2017, hoping to avoid strikes over the Christmas period. However, the strikes in Dublin have been causing disruption, which is having a negative impact on profits. Ryanair has said that they have been forced to lower their fares even more to compete with other airlines and to encourage people to still choose to fly with Ryanair despite the uncertainty caused by these strikes.
Instead of ending the strikes by coming to an agreement with their Irish pilots, Ryanair has now announced that they are cutting their Dublin fleet by 20%. Since their Polish brand, Ryanair Sun, has been doing well over in Poland, they will be moving several of their aircraft to increase the Polish fleet from 5 to 11. Reducing the Irish fleet from 30 to 24 aircraft will put around 300 jobs at risk, though Ryanair has said that they will offer transfers to Poland or another base to some workers. The Irish pilots are not accepting the blame for these cuts, which Ryanair has tried to place on them. They are continuing with their rolling strikes, planning a fourth 24-hour walkout for Friday 3rd August, which is likely to disrupt the Irish bank holiday weekend. Ryanair has invited the union of Irish pilots for a meeting following this strike.
Are there going to be more Ryanair strikes?
Apart from the Irish industrial action planned for Friday, Ryanair’s pilots in several other countries are following the example of those in Dublin. Strikes are planned for Friday 10th August in Belgium and Sweden. Their pilots in Germany are supporting this action but have not announced any strikes themselves yet. The same goes for their pilots in the Netherlands, who voted to join the campaign with the intention of striking. Members of Ryanair’s cabin crew already went on strike for two days in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium last week, disrupting flights for as many as 100,000 customers. As the strikes escalate throughout Europe, Ryanair has finally issued invitations to the pilot unions to meet and discuss collective labour agreements. The planned strikes are still going ahead, but Ryanair has requested that pilots must give 7 days’ notice before any strikes so that they can notify the customers and minimize the disruption.
Will Ryanair cancel my flight because of strikes?
Hundreds of Ryanair flights have been cancelled in the last month because of these strikes across Europe. If you are due to fly with Ryanair on a strike day which has already been announced, check with Ryanair immediately to find out if your flight is affected. Ryanair flights to and from certain bases will not be affected at all, but if you are flying with Ryanair between countries whose pilots are involved in the industrial action, it is likely that your flight will be at risk of cancellation. Ryanair will not be able to tell you about future strikes until the unions announce them, so unless they come to an agreement after the talks next week then more holiday trips might be disrupted by further strike action.
Some of the thousands of customers affected by cancellations were not aware that their flight had been cancelled until they were already on the way to the airport. You should check in advance to make sure that your flight is going ahead as planned. Since most Brits tend to rely on non-refundable package holidays, especially for summer family holidays, cancelled flights can ruin holidays and leave customers out of pocket. With pilots giving notice of 7 days before a planned strike, Ryanair should contact customers whose flights will be cancelled this far in advance. If you don’t receive a cancellation text or e-mail, then your flight should be fine, but you should still contact them to check.
Can I get compensation for a cancelled Ryanair flight?
If your Ryanair flight is cancelled, they will offer you a few options, which may not be appealing. You can claim a full refund, and take your chances trying to book on another flight on a different airline. Since Ryanair fares are low, and last-minute bookings are always much higher, your refund probably won’t go very far towards new plane tickets to get you to where you need to be. Alternatively, Ryanair will let you re-book on another Ryanair flight, but at this late stage and especially at this time of year, most of the flights will already be fully booked. You can demand that Ryanair books you onto a rival airline if they are unable to provide a flight of their own, which they are legally responsible for doing, but that also depends on the availability of seats. If you end up having to book them yourself, you can try and claim the money back later if you can prove that Ryanair gave you no other option. Passengers who are stranded abroad by cancelled flights can claim the costs of meals and hotels from Ryanair until the airline is able to fly them back home.
The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) is encouraging customers whose flights were cancelled because of strikes to try to claim compensation according to European air passenger rights. The CAA claims that airlines must pay compensation if they do not warn passengers of cancellation at least two weeks before the departure date of the flight. Despite this, Ryanair has stated that it will reject any of these claims because passengers are not entitled to compensation if flights are cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances. According to Ryanair, the pilot strikes are out of their control and count as extraordinary circumstances, which exempts them from the EU regulations. It is unlikely that you will be able to get additional compensation, but you should still make sure that you are compensated for the hassles of a flight cancellation with either a full refund or alternative travel arrangements, with the expenses fully covered by Ryanair.