50,000 passengers expected to be affected by airline strike

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Up to 50,000 passengers faced travel misery on Friday after Ryanair announced it would have to cancel around 400 flights as a result of industrial action. But the figure could rise to 82 flights if routes between the Dutch city of Eindhoven and the Spanish cities of Reus and Valencia are finally canceled, after a court said on Thursday that Dutch pilots may join the walkout.

Germany's powerful Cockpit union accused Ryanair of "categorically" ruling out higher personnel costs for cockpit crew, leaving no room for a compromise. The impact of the strike was limited with Ryanair apparently able to replace the striking Dutch pilots.

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. But a court said yesterday Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands could not be prevented from doing so.

Today's unprecedented simultaneous strike action by Ryanair pilots is the latest headache in a turbulent summer for Europe's second-largest airline.

Unions also want the airline to give contractors the same work conditions as staff employees.

Another key complaint of workers based in countries other than Ireland is the fact that Ryanair employs them under Irish legislation, arguing most of its employees work on Irish planes.

"Ryanair is the only multinational in Belgium that doesn't respect the Belgian law and that's not normal", said Didier Lebbe, a representative of union ACV-CSC, whose demands include securing its pilots pay when they are on stand-by. "It is annoying that it's happening in the holidays but that is the only means they have", said one man at an airport in Berlin.

He added that Ryanair had already offered a 20% pay increase this year, and that 80% of its pilots in Germany were now on permanent contracts.

If this option is not available on the same day or next day then then we will try to accommodate you on the next available Ryanair flight from or to a suitable alternative airport within the same country.

About 300 Ryanair flights were cancelled in July when cabin crews in Belgium, Portugal and Spain went on strike for 48 hours.

'We want to again apologise to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling any more unjustified strikes'.

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