Ryanair is attempting to stop UK pilots from striking this week through the High Court today.
The airline is seeking an injunction to prevent members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) participating in a planned walkout on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 August.
Flights are continuing to be sold on those days, with passengers still in the dark as to whether scheduled services will go ahead.
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The beleaguered airline is also awaiting a decision on a separate injunction to stop Irish pilots who are members of the union Ialpa striking on the same dates.
Balpa has said it is “worrying” to see Ryanair continue to sell tickets for strike days.
“Are they prepared to offer compensation to passengers if they are affected?” said general secretary Brian Strutton. “I think they should tell passengers exactly where they stand.”
Ryanair has called for the union to postpone industrial action to allow time for the London High Court to hear Ryanair’s injunction, plus any subsequent appeal against the decision.
Europe’s biggest carrier is arguing in court that the proposed strikes aren’t legal as the correct process – which requires a meeting between Ryanair’s chief people officer Eddie Wilson and Brian Strutton, and meetings with conciliation service Acas – wasn’t followed before industrial action was announced.
Mr Wilson called the strikes “unjustified and unnecessary”.
He said: “Ryanair does not wish to prevent Balpa or its pilots going on strike. Highly paid pilots, earning six figure salaries, have a duty to our customers and their families to avoid strikes disruptions to passengers, especially when agreed dispute resolution processes have not yet been used or exhausted.”
Balpa has also proposed stoppages on 2, 3 and 4 September.
The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, estimates that, of the two million passengers booked to travel on Ryanair on the five days of UK pilots’ strikes, 500,000 are at potential risk of having their flights cancelled.
For passengers who feel they are potentially affected by the strikes, The Independent has identified a potential hack that can help deduce the home location of the plane used for their flight – by looking at the operating pattern of the aircraft deployed on the same day a week earlier.
For example, Thursday’s Edinburgh-Bordeaux flight is FR6554. Tapping that number into FlightRadar24 shows that on Thursday 15 August the aircraft used had the registration number 9H-QAB.
Clicking on the registration reveals that the plane began its day at Bordeaux at 7.10am with a flight to Edinburgh, followed by trips to Dublin and Stansted and back. The aircraft ended the day back in Bordeaux.
Passengers should be reasonably confident the flight will operate as normal, because the flight will likely be crewed by French staff who are not striking.
Conversely, the first Stansted-Berlin flight on Thursdays, FR8542, was operated by a plane that started the day in the UK and flew to Berlin, Aarhus and Bari before returning to the Essex airport.
That is one of the flights that could be at risk, because it is operated by British pilots.
Any passenger whose flight is cancelled is entitled to a refund or to be flown on the same day if a seat is available, on a rival carrier such as British Airways or easyJet if Ryanair cannot provide an alternative.
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