Irish union pilots flying for Ryanair are threatening strike action for August 22nd and 23rd. British union pilots flying for Ryanair will strike at the same time as well. Furthermore, UK pilots are planning an additional strike from the 2nd to the 4th of September. How will all of this affect Ryanair?
Last week we saw Ryanair announce the cancellation of hundreds of flights as it failed to reach a deal with its pilots. As a result, the travel plans of 55,000 people have been disrupted. This will likely lead to millions of euros in compensation claims and out of pocket expenses.
“We have made no progress with Ryanair management on any of those areas at all, seemingly because Ryanair management cannot understand how to go about working with us constructively, or how to negotiate.” -British Airline Pilots Association
“Europe’s No. 1 Airline”
According to Ryanair’s “About Us” section of their corporate website, the budget carrier is “Europe’s No. 1 Airline”. The airline operates over 2,000 flights each day serving 215 airports in 37 countries.
In a single day, the airline serves over 350,000 passengers with one of their aircraft taking off every 45 seconds. Should the UK and Irish pilots go through with strike plans, the damage will be significant.
Despite Ryanair’s extensive reach throughout Europe, it is important to note that many flights serving the UK will go unaffected. This is because the airline uses crews with bases in other countries that are not part of the strike; France, Spain and Italy, for example.
Therefore, Ryanair will be crippled by these strikes but not crushed, as the majority of the airline’s operations are not involved in the planned strike action.
The financial damage for Ryanair will be extensive. Not only will Ryanair forfeit any revenue from tens of thousands of bookings, but it will also have to pay out millions in compensation claims. Under EU regulations, “Compensation is due if you were informed less than 14 days prior to the scheduled departure date.”
According to The Independent, over two million passengers are expected to fly with Ryanair on the five strike days announced by the UK pilots. However, a large majority are not on aircraft that would be flown by UK pilots.
Earlier this month, The Independent estimated that approximately 350,000 travelers are booked to fly on British-crewed flights on those dates.
Damage to reputation
It only takes one nightmare experience for a customer to vow never to fly a particular airline again. With the cancellation of hundreds of flights, thousands of passengers will have to cancel their travel plans and potentially lose money on car rentals and hotel reservations.
Because of these negative experiences, passengers may choose to fly with another airline in the future, despite having to pay more for their flight. This is a difficult situation for Ryanair as the European budget travel market has a large amount of competition. WizzAir, easyJet, Jet2 are just a few of the budget airlines competing with Ryanair.
What should you do?
Stay up to date. Using past disputes as a reference, Ryanair has informed passengers on affected flights that it has decided to cancel with only two or three days notice.
Don’t cancel reservations yourself (if you want a refund). If you are flying on a day that is within the planned strikes, don’t cancel the flights yourself if you want to get a refund. The airline will only offer a refund once it declares a cancellation. As The Independent states: It “absolves the airline of making alternative arrangements for your travel”.
If your flight is canceled. Under EU passenger right’s, Ryanair is obligated to arrange an alternate flight as soon as possible. In fact, this can be on another airline if necessary. You can find out what your rights are and what you are entitled to under EU regulations here.
Check your travel insurance policy. If you took out a travel insurance policy or if your credit card includes travel insurance, check your policy to find out if you are covered for certain expenses should you find yourself stranded.