In the heat of the summer holidays, Ryanair is threatened with cabin crew strikes and possibly unhappy passengers. The low-cost carrier has been faced with flight staff dissatisfaction with the working conditions and cancelled flights. Despite that the carrier has made an unprecedented step last year and recognized two pilot trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history, it still struggles to reach an agreement with its cabin crew on certain issues.
Reasons behind the Ryanair cabin crew strike
The main reason behind the Ryanair strike lies in the fact that the cabin crew are not happy with work-related factors such as payment, promotion, annual leave, and seniority. The budget carrier has signed an agreement with pilot trade unions in the UK and Italy, which has averted a strike before Christmas, however cabin crew from other countries are also asking recognition of their rights.
One of the arguments that cabin crew lists for their strike are the desire that they are to be employed under the conditions of the country they work in and not under Irish labour law as it is at present. There is a precedent for this demand since recently the court ruled out that that Ryanair employees based in the Netherlands should be covered by the Dutch law.
The airline has responded to that demand by stating that the planes where cabin crew works are flying under an Irish flag and hence it is normal Irish legislation to apply to them.
Ryanair to cancel up to 300 of 2,400 daily flights next Wed 25 and Thurs 26 to minimise disruption to customers from unnecessary strikes by some cabin crew in Belgium, Portugal and Spain: pic.twitter.com/qTsmq3lCPI
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) July 18, 2018
According to the budget carrier Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs, the flight staff has no real reason to complain about working conditions since they get up to EUR 40,000 pay, great rosters – 14 days off each month, sick pay, uniform allowances, and sales commissions.
Employees hired through temporary work agencies get a different payment compared to those directly working for Ryanair despite doing the same tasks
The answer of the trade unions, however, is that cabin crew sometimes gets only EUR 17,000 out of the stated EUR 40,000 and since many of them have no base salary, most of the crew gets no payment when they don’t fly.
Another issue is the unequal pay of the cabin crew. Employees hired through temporary work agencies get a different payment compared to those directly working for Ryanair despite doing the same tasks. Quite often flight attendants on the same flight might receive a completely different remuneration for their work.
Details of the expected Ryanair strike
So far this month there has been a Ryanair strike and more than one Ryanair flight cancelled on Thursday, July 12 when pilots, who are members of the Irish trade union walked out. The Dublin-based pilots went on strike once again on Friday, July 20, which resulted in more than 4,000 passengers being faced with a cancelled flight between the UK and Ireland.
The next wave of the Ryanair cabin crew strike will be this week on July 25 and 26. Italian cabin crew will walk out for one day on July 25, while employees from Spain, Portugal, and Belgium will strike for both days. Irish pilots may also join their colleagues on Thursday.
Which Ryanair flights will be cancelled?
The Ryanair cabin crew strike in Ireland last Friday grounded 24 flights between Ireland and the UK. The upcoming strike will lead to cancelling 600 out of their 4,800 flights scheduled for the two days. In Belgium alone, 48 daily flights will be cancelled at Charleroi airport. In Portugal, the number of cancelled flights will be about 50 as well.
All affected passengers, who are about 50,000, have been notified by the LCC either via messages or e-mails. Customers who haven’t received any notice should expect no problems with their travel. The affected passengers have been offered either refunds or alternative flights on different days as compensation for the inconvenienced caused by the strike.
The upcoming strike will lead to cancelling 600 out of their 4,800 flights scheduled for the two days
As per the European legislation, passengers should be accommodated on flights performed either by Ryanair or another company that is suitable for them without being charged additionally for that. As Ryanair is a European airline, no problems are expected with the compensation or rescheduling of passengers.
Spain will be probably the most affected of all countries. 200 out of the 830 Ryanair daily flights will be cancelled. The government even reached Ryanair and demanded that the carrier guarantees 100% of the flights between mainland Spain and the Balearic and the Canary Islands and 59% of the international flights. The airline has not yet announced whether that is achievable.
In Italy, cabin crew also declared stoppage of their work, however, the airline has announced that this won’t lead to flight cancellations.
Ryanair profit falls
In addition to the cabin crew strikes, Ryanair is also struggling with profit falls and possible fleet reduction and job losses.
This Monday, July 23, the Dublin-based airline reported that its first-quarter profit has decreased by 20% to EUR319 million as a result of higher fuel and staff costs compared to previous year results. There was also a 4% decline in the average fares as a result of traffic growth, overcapacity in Europe and the earlier timing of Easter.
There was a 7% growth in traffic despite that the carrier has cancelled 2,500 flights due to staff shortage and strikes.
The carrier is not willing to give in to the unreasonable demands of the cabin crew and expects even more strikes throughout the summer. If the trend continues, however, Ryanair warns that they may need to revise their winter schedule. Unwilling to make compromises with the low fares or the efficient model they follow, the airline is ready to reduce the fleet or cut jobs if need be.
The Ryanair cabin crew strike will most probably affect not only the flight schedule of the low-cost carrier but also its shares. We shall wait and see by how much they will drop after the current pilot’s unrest. It is also interesting how the Ryanair strike will affect the launch of its new competitor by British Airways if at all.