Ryanair strike: One in six flights cancelled in pilot walkout

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   QUEUE MUST BE KIDDING? Passengers have been waiting in airports following the flight disruption

Ryanair has so far cancelled 20 Irish flights, 104 Belgian flights, 22 Swedish flights and 250 German flights scheduled for Friday so far.

The cancellations come after hundreds of passengers were stranded at London's Stansted Airport as a result of storms on Tuesday.

In response to unions serving Ryanair strike notices, Europe's largest low-priced carrier has announced in recent days the cancellations of 250 flights in and out Germany, 104 to and from Belgium and another 42 in Sweden and its home market of Ireland, where around a quarter of its pilots were staging their fifth 24-hour walkout.

Staff are holding a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions. Ryanair will then be forced to cancel 400 of its 2,400 planned flights that day.

The hardest hit countries appeared to be Germany and Ireland, where flights between Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Dublin and airports in Britain were among those shelved.

Ryanair said in a statement last evening that despite what it called the "regrettable and unjustified" strike action taking place in 5 of its 37 markets, over 85% of its schedule will operate as normal today.

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He said: "Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options", the carrier said.

An estimated 50,000 passengers are understood to have been informed of cancellations, the majority of whom have been re-accommodated on alternative flights.

Ryanair, which averted widespread strikes before Christmas by agreeing to recognise unions for the first time in its 30-year history, has been unable to quell rising protests since over slow progress in negotiating collective labour agreements.

"Ryanair alone is responsible for the escalation we are now seeing", Cockpit president Martin Locher told a news conference on Wednesday.

Nearly 400 flights have been grounded across Europe, with that figure set to rise sharply with pilots in the Netherlands deciding to join the walkout yesterday.

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