Ryanair’s Spanish-based pilots and cabin crew plan a series of walkouts throughout September after the budget carrier confirmed it plans to close its bases in Lanzarote, Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and possibly Girona. If the closures go ahead, at least 512 job losses are expected, including over 100 pilots.
Cabin crew unions are planning 10 days of strike action next month in protest at the move – the first 48-hour stoppage will begin on 1st September, although Ryanair claims the effects are expected to be negligible. Of around 950 daily departures, so far, the airline says only 14 flights have been cancelled as a result of the industrial action.
Pilots unions have so far announded five days of strike action which are set to take place on 19th, 20th, 22nd, 27th and 29th September.
The unions say they are open to talks with Ryanair and want the airline to reverse its decision – something that Ryanair says isn’t going to happen. Blaming delivery delays of its next-generation Boeing 737MAX aircraft, the Dublin-based airline said the “pointless” strikes would have no effect on its decision to go ahead with the base closures.
Earlier this month, Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary announced that as many as 900 cabin crew would be made redundant by the autumn and that a further 600 could be axed immediately after Christmas.
Unions claim Ryanair is trying to intimidate workers who are fighting for better pay and working conditions. Shortly after O’Leary made the announcement, it was revealed the airline was continuing to recruit cabin crew and pilots. In Spain, cabin crew and pilots continue to be recruited for Ryanair subsidiary Laudamotion.
“The closures and dismissals announced are not justified and Ryanair will have to give explanations to the Spanish labour authorities,” said Jairo Gonzalo of the USO union.
“Our politicians cannot accept that Ryanair continues to make fun of our country,” he continued.
However, Spanish authorities have already imposed certain conditions on the strikes and have made the unions agree to provide a certain level of service – effectively, Ryanair has a dominant position on certain routes and a complete walkout would lead to hardship and suffering for the travelling public.
Ryanair’s pilots in the United Kingdom staged their own two-day strike last week and plan a three-day stoppage between the 2nd and 4th September. A coordinated strike by Irish pilots was barred by Ireland’s High Court over a technicality with the ballot. Ryanair said the strike had no impact on its operations.