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Ryanair strikes: Why are pilots walking out and what are your rights if your flight is cancelled?

Ryanair pilots are set for strike action - but will flights be affected? Credit: PA

Ryanair pilots are set to strike this week as a dispute with the airline continues.

Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) voted by four to one to back action on a 72% turnout.

The result of which is a 48-hour walkout beginning on Wednesday, September 18 and lasting to the end of Thursday.

Pilots are also ready to strike on Saturday, September 21 as well as September 23, 25, 27 and 29.

Ryanair is confident flights will take off as scheduled, but what should you do if your booking is affected?

Here's all you need to know about the likely impact on travel and where passengers stand.

Why are Ryanair pilots striking?

Ryanair pilots have various issues with the airline. Credit: PA

The long-running dispute is largely based on pensions, loss of licence insurance, maternity benefits, allowances and a "fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure".

Strikes have already taken place in late-August and early September, lasting 48 hours and three days respectively.

Announcing the upcoming dates, Balpa General Secretary Brian Strutton said at the time: “We are clear that we want to settle the dispute and bring about a change in Ryanair for the better.

“Pilots in Ryanair are seeking the same kind of policies and agreements that exist in other airlines – our demands are not unreasonable."

He said action has "consideraly disrupted" Ryanair and forced them to engage contractors and bring in foreign crews - but only had a "limited impact" on the public's travel plans.

“Ryanair should stop dragging its feet and get back to the negotiating table,” he said.

What are you rights if your flight is cancelled?

Passengers are entitled to compensation if flights are delayed by more than three hours. Credit: PA

Airlines normally issue two to three days' notice for cancelled flights but it is best to check with Ryanair directly about your flight if you're in any doubt.

All airlines are required under the European Air Passenger Regulations to reimburse passengers or find alternative travel solutions at no extra cost.

They are also bound by EU law to pay passengers if a flight is cancelled less than a fortnight before departure - with the exception of "extraordinary circumstance" - or delayed by more than three hours (up to £530).

Strike action doesn't fall into the category of "extraordinary circumstance", so passengers can apply to airlines for compensation unless they accept a refund.

Travel insurance does not normally cover strike action by airline staff.

How much disruption will there be to Ryanair flights?

Ryanair said flights were on course to run as normal during the strike action. Credit: PA

Not much, according to the airline.

Ryanair said in a statement: "Ryanair expects all its flights to/from UK airports on Wednesday 18th & Thursday 19th to operate as scheduled thanks to the efforts of over 95% of our UK pilots who have confirmed that they will work their rosters, and will not support these failed Balpa strikes.

"On behalf of our customers and their families we wish to sincerely thank all our UK pilots who do not support these Balpa strikes."

Balpa has also suggested in a previous statement that their action disrupts Ryanair behind the scenes more than it does its customers.