Ryanair pilot strike grounds 400 flights across Europe

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Ryanair is bracing for its biggest-ever one-day strike on Friday (Aug 10) with pilots based in five European countries set to walk out, forcing the cancellation of about one in six of its daily flights at the height of the holiday season.

The airline expected the travel plans of 42,000 travellers to be hit by the action in Germany alone, with the majority of passengers switched to another Ryanair flight and the remainder either refunded or rerouted. 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.

A statement from CEO Michael O'Leary said: "Ryanair fully complies with all EU261 legislation, however as these flight cancellations were caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due".

German pilot representatives said at a news conference Wednesday at Frankfurt's airport that they were joining the strike action because they want pay and work conditions comparable to those at Ryanair's competitors.

The company calls the strikes "regrettable and unjustified". The airline has been hit with strikes by flight attendants in Spain, Portugal and Belgium.

Which flights are affected by the Ryanair strike?

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The Dutch pilots union VNV said it was the first time in Europe that an airline had gone to court to prevent industrial action, the Financieele Dagblad reported.

Staff claim this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country.

He said they earn up to €190,000 (£170,000), which was more than their peers at budget rival Eurowings made. Ryanair will then be forced to cancel 400 of its 2,400 planned flights that day.

"We expect the company to lower profit guidance for FY19 as it lowers capacity, on both strike disruption and crew shortages, and see weaker unit revenue trends as strike-affected traffic is redeployed on to operating flights and as passengers book away from what is now a less reliable travel option than usual", HSBC analyst Andrew Lobbenberg said.

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

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