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Ryanair pilots to strike but airline says flights will go ahead as scheduled

Credit: PA

Ryanair said it expects flights in and out of the UK to run as planned next week, despite losing a High Court bid to block strikes by its UK pilots.

The airline had applied to the High Court in London to intervene and stop the planned strikes on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 August by up to 30 per cent of its pilots based in Britain.

However before a ruling has been passed, Ryanair said it expects to "operate its full schedule of flights to/ from our UK airports".

In a statement, Ryanair said: "All passengers scheduled to travel on flights to/ from UK airports on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 August should arrive at their departure airport as normal and they can expect their scheduled Ryanair flight to depart on time."

The airline added that it does not expect "significant disruption" to its flights but that it "cannot rule out some small flights delays and/ or flight changes".

The High Court in Dublin on Wednesday approved an application by Ryanair to stop a proposed pilot strike in Ireland on Thursday and Friday.

When exactly are pilots set to strike?

Strikes will be held from 00.01am on Thursday August 22 until 11.59pm on Friday August 23 and from 00.01am on September 2 until 11.59pm on September 4.

Why are pilots leaving their cockpits?

Pilots backed the move to strike in a demand over pay and conditions. Credit: PA

The action is being held after a vote in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

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

Which flights are affected?

Less than 30 per cent of Ryanair's UK-based pilots are due to take part in the strike and the airline has said it expects to run its full schedule. The firm did add that there could be some minor delays although this remains to be seen.

So what can passengers do?

Passengers are entitled to a refund or an alternative booking in the event of strike action. Credit: PA

Check with the airline. Ryanair normally issues two to three days' notice of cancelled flights.

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

Will passengers be due compensation?

Potentially. Airlines are 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 Ryanair for compensation unless they accept a refund.

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

How could the High Court in London intervene?

Balpa confirmed on Tuesday that Ryanair is seeking a High Court Injunction on Wednesday, a day ahead of the first walkout.

Should the court have intervened, the action could have been blocked, meaning the pilots would not have been allowed to strike.

Following their failed bid, there could have possibly been a shift in further talks to prevent a walkout.

What is the union calling for?

Ryanair and the pilots union both accuse each other of blocking a resolution to the dispute. Credit: PA

A Balpa statement said the pilots' claim includes "many issues including pensions; loss of license insurance; maternity benefits; allowances; and a fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure".

Brian Strutton, Balpa’s general secretary, said: "No pilot wants to spoil the public’s travel plans but at the moment it seems we have no choice."

The union said it has not received an offer from Ryanair and accused management of not "working with us constructively".

How has Ryanair responded?

A Ryanair spokesperson said the airline was "disappointed that Balpa is threatening to disrupt our customers' travel plans during late August, early September" and said the action is "ill-judged and ill-timed".

The airline said the support for action amounted to "less than 30 per cent" of Ryanair's UK pilots as not all are members of Balpa and "just 57 per cent voted in favour of industrial action".

It said UK pilots agreed a 20 per cent salary increase last year and claimed current earnings compared favourably against salaries offered by rival budget airlines Norwegian and Jet2.

The airline said it has written to the union asking the UK pilots to reconsider the walkout.

Ryanair also faces complications in its European operation this week and next month.

Which other nations' staff are planning to strike?

Cabin crew in Portugal plan to strike between August 21 and August 25.

Ryanair is also facing industrial action in Spain in September (1, 2, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27) following the announcement 900 jobs are threatened.

How did the Dublin High Court deliver its decision?

The Ireland-based trial, which began in Dublin on Monday, heard from senior counsel for Ryanair and the union representing the pilots, Forsa.

Justice McDonald told Dublin High Court he would be stopping 180 pilots in Ireland from beginning the 48-hour action at 00.01am on Thursday.

He said he would restrain Forsa "from directly or indirectly, organising, directing or endorsing their members to participate" in the strike.

How have the sides reacted following the High Court case in London?

Following the High Court ruling, Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said Ryanair was "foolish" for trying to take the case to the High Court.

"We offered to meet Ryanair management at Acas to negotiate a resolution, but instead they attempted a legal bludgeon. That's backfired.

"However, we are clear that we want to settle the dispute and bring about a change in Ryanair for the better."