Ryanair to scrap 250 flights over German pilot strike Friday

Ryanair said it will cancel 250 flights to and from Germany on Friday after German pilots announced they were joining Europe-wide strikes against the carrier, in a spiralling row over pay and conditions.

Ryanair to scrap 250 flights over German pilot strike Friday
Photo: DPA

The carrier had already axed 146 out of some 2,400 scheduled flights across Europe because of strikes planned by Irish, Belgian and Swedish pilots on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference in Frankfurt, Ryanair's chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the airline regretted the “unnecessary strike action”.

German Ryanair pilots announced on Thursday that they would lay down tools on Friday in an ongoing dispute over payment and working conditions, affecting passengers on all of the budget airline's flights out of Germany. 

Germany's powerful Vereinigung Cockpit union has called for a strike among all Ryanair captains and pilots stationed in Germany this Friday.

Cockpit said it had asked its 400 Ryanair pilots to walk off the job for 24 hours from 03:01am (01:01 GMT) on Friday, affecting all of the airline's outbound flights.

“We are extremely sorry for the affected passengers. The responsibility  lies with Ryanair management,” Cockpit president Martin Locher told a press conference on Wednesday.

The action will take place in tandem with strikes in Sweden, Ireland and Belgium, as Ryanair continues to struggle with a summer-long wave of industrial action across Europe.

The dispute began with several, weekly 24-hour strikes from pilots in Ireland earlier this summer, and they were joined in July by Ryanair employees in Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Europe's second biggest airline has been grappling with staff unrest since it recognised trade unions for the first time in December 2017, in a bid to ward off widespread strikes over the Christmas period.

But unions say their calls for better wages and fairer contracts have gone unheard, and no progress has been made despite months of negotiations.

Two weeks ago, members of the Vereinigung Cockpit voted by 96 percent for similar strike action among pilots stationed in Germany.

Cockpit said that said Ryanair management had failed to respond to a Tuesday deadline for an improved offer, leaving them with no choice to go on strike.

Friday’s strikes will see more passengers hit by cancellations, with more than 100,000 estimated to have already been affected this summer.

“Passengers whose Ryanair flights are cancelled may have a claim to damages of up to €600 per person, providing the flight is cancelled within 14 days of its scheduled departure,” said Laura Kauczynski, an expert on passenger rights at the website AirHelp.

“The same applies for passengers whose flights are delayed by more than three hours.”


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UPDATE: Ryanair passenger jet makes emergency landing in Berlin over ‘fake bomb threat’

Polish police said Monday they were investigating a fake bomb threat that forced a Ryanair passenger plane travelling from Dublin to Krakow to make an emergency landing in Berlin.

UPDATE: Ryanair passenger jet makes emergency landing in Berlin over 'fake bomb threat'
A Ryanair flight making an emergency landing

The flight from Dublin to Krakow made the unexpected diversion after a reported bomb threat, German newspaper Bild Zeitung said.

“We were notified by the Krakow airport that an airport employee received a phone call saying an explosive device had been planted on the plane,” said regional police spokesman, Sebastian Glen.

“German police checked and there was no device, no bomb threat at all. So we know this was a false alarm,” he told AFP on Monday.

“The perpetrator has not been detained, but we are doing everything possible to establish their identity,” Glen added, saying the person faces eight years in prison.

With 160 people on board, the flight arrived at the Berlin Brandenburg airport shortly after 8 pm Sunday, remaining on the tarmac into early Monday morning.

A Berlin police spokesperson said that officers had completed their security checks “without any danger being detected”.

“The passengers will resume their journey to Poland on board a spare aeroplane,” she told AFP, without giving more precise details for the alert.

The flight was emptied with the baggage also searched and checked with sniffer dogs, German media reported.

The passengers were not able to continue their journey until early Monday morning shortly before 4:00 am. The federal police had previously classified the situation as harmless. The Brandenburg police are now investigating the case.

Police said that officers had completed their security checks “without any danger being detected”.

“The Ryanair plane that made an emergency landed reported an air emergency and was therefore immediately given a landing permit at BER,” airport spokesman Jan-Peter Haack told Bild.

“The aircraft is currently in a safe position,” a spokeswoman for the police told the newspaper.

The incident comes a week after a Ryanair flight was forced to divert to Belarus, with a passenger — a dissident journalist — arrested on arrival.

And in July last year, another Ryanair plane from Dublin to Krakow was forced to make an emergency landing in London after a false bomb threat.

READ ALSO: Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing