RyanAir pilot strike grounds 400 flights across Europe

Ryanair pilots on strike in Dublin last month

Ryanair pilots on strike in Dublin last month

After 400 flights were cancelled, passengers were left stranded and queuing at airports across Europe.

Ingolf Schumacher, pay negotiator at Germany's Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union, said pilots had to be prepared for "a very long battle" and that it could take months to push through change at Europe's largest low-priced carrier. The company says it has made every effort to solve the dispute.

But pilots counter that Ryanair has refused to engage in meaningful dialogue about collective labour agreements since it began recognising unions in December 2017.

At Charleroi Airport, Belgium's second largest and a major Ryanair hub in the region, striking staff gathered in the departure hall and held up banners reading "Ryanair must change- Respect us".

This includes 78 flights to or from Spain, a move that will affect 14,000 passengers.

In Belgium, Ryanair has cancelled 20 flights: eight between Zaventem airport and Madrid and Barcelona, and 12 between Charleroi and Alicante, Almería, Santander, Seville, Tenerife and Zaragoza.

"I spent about four hours [yesterday] calling them and trying to find my own travel options to see how to get to Sweden".

"If this option is not available on the same or the next day then we will accommodate you on any comparable transport alternative to your end destination - for example on a train, bus, airline, auto hire".

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She tried to find any other flights to Sweden from other United Kingdom airports, and even asked if she could fly to Copenhagen in Denmark, and get a train to Gothenburg instead.

Around 250 flights have been cancelled as a result, forcing passengers who planned on travelling on Friday to rebook or take different routes.

In the Netherlands, Ryanair filed for an urgent court order to try to prevent Dutch pilots from joining the industrial action. But at about the same time Ryanair issued a statement saying there would be no cancellations.

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

The country's powerful Cockpit union said it had called on Ryanair's roughly 480 Germany-based pilots to walk out from 3.01am (2.01am Irish time) until 2.59am (1.59am Irish time) on Saturday.

But some people took to Twitter to complain at how Ryanair handled the debacle after their flights were canceled.

Ryanair has said that strike action will hit average fares because it takes up seats that it could otherwise have sold at a high last-minute price.

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