Ryanair faces a challenge over the Christmas period as pilots in Ireland threaten strike action, while pilots and air traffic controllers in Italy may stage a walk-out this Friday (December 15).

The airline said it had received notification from the Aer Lingus pilots union IALPA warning of a 24-hour strike involving around 28 per cent of its 300 pilots in Dublin on December 20. Ryanair says none of its pilots are union members, but IALPA claims it has members in Ireland, the majority of whom voted in favour of industrial action.

IALPA, a branch of the Impact union, said it will seek action including strike if Ryanair “continues to fail to recognise” it as the representative body for its pilots, takes disciplinary action against its members or reduces any pay.

Ryanair retaliated with the assertion that its Dublin pilots have been offered “a 20 per cent pay increase at a time when IALPA is recommending a 3 per cent increase to Aer Lingus pilots”, which staff in Belfast, Cork and Shannon have already accepted. The carrier claims those pilots already earn up to €190,000 for a five on/four off roster. It says it will refuse “to recognise an Aer Lingus pilot union, no matter how often of how long” the union threatens action.

The carrier has issued a statement warning passengers that some disruption to services might occur as a result of the walk-out.

Meanwhile, the airline says it has been warned by Italian authorities of a four-hour walk-out this Friday (December 15) between 13.00 and 17.00, which will affect air traffic controllers and some of the carrier’s own pilots and crew. It says any affected passengers will be notified of disruption should the strike go ahead.

Elsewhere, German pilots union Cockpit has said its Ryanair members will strike if the airline refuses to enter negotiations for better pay and conditions, but agreed it would not disrupt flights over Christmas. 

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