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Ryanair wins court bid to block Irish strike

Ryanair plane taking offImage copyright
Reuters

The High Court in Dublin has blocked a proposed strike by Ireland-based Ryanair pilots on Thursday and Friday.

Ryanair’s lawyers in Ireland told the court that the pilots union, which represents around 180 Ryanair pilots, had not let talks reach a conclusion before announcing the strike.

A London court is still hearing an urgent attempt by the airline to block a much larger strike by British pilots.

A judgement at that hearing is expected imminently.

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In a tweet, Ryanair welcomed the judgement from the Irish court.

It said all Ryanair flights from Irish airports would now take off as normal.

Pilots can be drafted in from elsewhere in Europe to fill in during strike action, however the airline had previously warned that the 180 pilots who were set to strike on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 August would put holidaymakers’ travel plans at risk if the action went ahead.

Justice McDonald told Dublin High Court that he would restrain the pilots’ union, Forsa, “from directly or indirectly, organising, directing or endorsing” a strike by its members on Thursday and Friday.

Forsa’s lawyers had told the court that Ryanair had been “curt and dismissive” of a 30-page proposal it submitted to the airline on pay and conditions.

Earlier in August, Ryanair pilots in the UK joined pilots in Ireland in voting to strike over pay and conditions.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) announced two 48-hour walkouts, one from 22-23 August and another from 2-4 September.

But Ryanair turned to the courts in London and Dublin in a bid to block the industrial action, prompting Balpa to accuse the airline of “bully boy” tactics.

Pilot shortage

When Balpa announced the planned industrial action, Ryanair responded saying the “ill-timed” strikes would endanger pilot jobs.

On 31 July, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned staff in a video message to prepare for job cuts, saying the airline has 900 too many pilots and cabin crew members.

He said the two weakest markets were Germany, where Ryanair faced fierce competition on price, and the UK, where there were Brexit uncertainties.

“It’s been a challenging summer, we’re facing into a very difficult winter,” he said in the video, seen by the BBC.

But Captain Tilmann Gabriel, a former pilot who teaches aviation management at City University, told Radio 5 Live that pilots were in short supply with 800,000 more needed over the next two decades.

“That means we need to produce… 110 pilots every day [for] the next 20 years and we are producing much less,” he said. “So of course the price goes up.”