Hundreds of Ryanair flights cancelled over European strikes

Kenny Jacobs Ryanair’s chief marketing officer at a news conference in Germany yesterday

Ryanair has issued a statement on the strike, calling it "unnecessary".

Ryanair customers face mass travel disruptions as pilots across Europe begin a coordinated 24-hour strike to push their demands for better pay and conditions at the peak of the busy summer season.

A total of around 400 flights Europewide have been cancelled due to the strike action, AFP reported - equating to around 55,000 passengers.

The walk-out is part of an ongoing dispute over working conditions, which has already seen pilots - who are members of the Irish trade union FORSA - stage four separate one-day strikes.

But Ryanair pilots say they earn less than counterparts at other airlines like Lufthansa.

Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130million people last year, averted widespread Christmas strikes last year by agreeing to recognise trade unions for the first time in its 33-year history.

That topped the 300 flights a day it had to cancel last month when cabin crews in Belgium, Portugal and Spain escalated the staff revolt by going on strike for 48 hours.

The airline in recent days announced the cancellations of 250 flights in and out Germany, 104 to and from Belgium and another 42 affecting Sweden and Ireland.

Ryanair did not respond to requests for a comment on the union's statement.

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The unions want the contracts of Ryanair employees to be governed by the laws of the nation where they are based, not by Irish legislation.

The Irish budget airline said the strikes were "regrettable and unjustified" and called for unions to come back to the negotiating table.

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

Dozens of Ryanair flights into and out of United Kingdom will not take place as scheduled on Friday as a result of a strike by pilots in Europe.

Staff claim this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country. He said Ryanair categorically ruled out any such increases at talks.

Ryanair operates more than 2,000 flights a day, serving 223 airports across 37 countries in Europe and North Africa, and insists it will not change the low-priced model that transformed the industry and has made it Europe's most profitable airline.

"I think it also sends a signal to other companies where workers are played off against each other", he told Germany's regional broadcaster RBB.

Customers have been notified and a majority of those affected moved to another Ryanair flight, the company said.

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