Spanish Ryanair Pilots Plan 5 Days Of Union Strikes In September

Following the announcement that Ryanair is closing five of its hubs in Spain and Portugal, Spanish Ryanair pilots are planning five days of strikes in September.

Ryanair Spanish pilots plan five day strike. Photo: Ryanair

Unless some kind of a deal can be agreed upon this week, the budget airlines pilots will schedule strikes for five days in September, joining Ryanair cabin crew on the picket lines. The labor union representing the airline’s Spanish pilots has announced a series of strikes protesting the closure of five Ryanair bases.

The Canary Islands will see three Ryanair bases close

The affected airports that will see Ryanair pull out are mainly in the Canary Islands and include Lanzarote, Tenerife South, and Las Palmas.

Three Ryanair bases in the Canary Islands will close. Photo: Ryanair

The other two to close are Girona, near to Barcelona in Catalonia, and Faro in the Algarve region of Portugal. Following the closure of the five Ryanair bases, up to 100 local pilots could lose their jobs.

The strike action announced yesterday by the pilots union SEPLA will coincide with strikes already scheduled by cabin crew who are unhappy with the Irish Airlines working conditions.

The low-cost carriers Spanish based cabin crew has strikes scheduled for September 1, 2, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 and 29, meanwhile, the pilots five days of strikes will be on September 19, 20, 22, 27 and 29.

Spanish Ryanair pilots and their union are arguing that Ryanair’s closure of some of its bases in Spain is not based on either economic or legal argument.

Ryanair 737 MAX
SEPLA is accusing Ryanair of starting new companies to lower wages. Photo: Ryanair

“We hope that the company reconsiders its decision, which is not supported by any economic motivations given that Ryanair continues to announce profits year after year,” SEPLA representatives said according to Spanish daily newspaper El Pais.

The union is also arguing that Ryanair has announced the closures “without carrying out the obligatory legal procedure to carry out a collective dismissal.”

Mabrian Technologies, in collaboration with Interface Tourism Spain, says the closure of the bases could affect as many as 1.4 million seats in the first quarter of 2020. Aviation website FlightGlobal says SEPLA is accusing Ryanair of trying to establish new companies so that the airline can drive down wages.

To back up this claim, the union says Ryanair is establishing a new base in Palma de Mallorca that will be operated by Ryanair subsidiary Laudamotion. In the Canaries, SEPLA claims that Ryanair’s Polish subsidy Buzz Air is already hiring pilots in the Canary Islands.

Ryanair is facing industrial action in several European countries where pilots and cabin crew are accusing the airlines of providing poor employment conditions.

Ryanair says the strikes are “doomed to fail”

Responding to FlightGlobal’s article Ryanair responded by saying:

“As the closure of Ryanair’s loss-making winter bases in the Canaries cannot, and will not, be reversed, these strikes are unnecessary and doomed to fail.”

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Calling strikes now ahead of Brexit is akin to self-harm. Photo: Ryanair

“The base closures are irreversible until such time as the Boeing Max delivery delays are resolved.”

Ryanair was eager to point out that it would have 30 fewer planes this winter due to delivery delays following the grounding of the 737 MAX.

“This aircraft shortage has forced [us] to close some loss-making winter bases, and cut aircraft numbers at others,” it says. “These difficult decisions have affected many Ryanair bases this winter, not just in Spain, but across eight other countries.”

Ryanair was also keen to say that as “almost all” the traffic at the Canary Islands bases originates overseas, it “can be better served by aircraft based in other EU countries” without such “high costs and inefficiency.”

Ryanair has warned that calling strikes now just weeks away from Brexit amounts to “an act of great self-harm” by the unions.