Ryanair has cancelled 190 flights for this Friday because of cabin crew strikes in six countries, described by unions as the biggest strike ever to hit the airline.
Ryanair, which had previously played down the impact of the strike, said it has sent emails and texts to the 30,000 affected clients.
It described the action as an 'unnecessary strike by a tiny minority of cabin crew in Spain, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Italy and Germany'.
Ryanair claimed in a statement the strikes were being partly led by staff from rival airlines.
"In Spain, a Norwegian cabin crew member in Alicante is driving the strike, in Portugal a TAP cabin crew is calling for strikes without the support of our Portuguese cabin crew, and in Italy where Ryanair yesterday signed a CLA agreement with the three main cabin crew unions, this threatened strike has been called by a tiny union which has no recognition or support among our Italian cabin crew."
Ryanair's Kenny Jacobs said: "We sincerely apologise to those customers affected by these unnecessary strikes on Friday, which we have done our utmost to avoid, given that we have already offered these unions recognition agreements, Collective Labour Agreements, and a move to local contracts/law in 2019.
"These repeated unnecessary strikes are damaging Ryanair's business and our customer confidence at a time when oil prices are rising strongly, and if they continue, it is inevitable that we will have to look again at our capacity growth this winter and in summer 2019.
"We hope these unions will see common sense and work with us to finalise agreements for the benefit of our pilots and cabin crew over the coming weeks without further disrupting our customers or our flights.
"When we can successfully do deals with unions in Ireland, the UK, Germany and Italy, why are some unions in Belgium, Holland and Spain not doing similar deals?"
Ryanair has come under fire for insisting it will not be paying out compensation to affected passengers, despite the CAA saying it should.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: "These cancellations mean more travel chaos, more unnecessary disruption and more holiday plans in tatters for 30,000 Ryanair passengers - when will this airline finally do right by its customers?
"The airline must now immediately arrange alternative flights or provide a full refund and pay out compensation to those affected - including the many people still waiting for the money they're owed from its shambolic summer of cancellations."
Courtesy of Travelmole
The Civil Aviation Authority announced yesterday that it had launched enforcement action against the airline 'for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations'.
Earlier this month, it waned Ryanair that it must ensure customers were given accurate, comprehensive information relating to their rights and entitlements.
However, yesterday the CAA issued the following statement: "Today, in announcing thousands more cancellations to its scheduled programme, the airline has again failed to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information relating to their passenger rights, particularly around rerouting and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses.
"We have now told Ryanair that we are expediting enforcement action against them."
The CAA said that if the airline refused to comply, the next step would be legal action.
Today's strike action by crew in six European countries has led to the cancellation of around 250 flights - 100 of which were grounded at the last minute when pilots in German voted to join the industrial action taking place in other countries.
Approximately 35,000 people have been affected, which is around one in 10 of the airline's passengers due to travel today, and most were given no more than three days' warning of the disruption, but the airline is adamant they - and other passengers hit by strikes earlier this year - are not due any compensation under EU261 regulations.
Under the rules, airlines are obliged to compensate passengers for cancellations made within two weeks of their departure date unless the reason is out of the airline's control. Ryanair is arguing that as crew from other airlines are involved in the strikes, it has no control over the events.
Ryanair said in a statement: "No compensation is payable to customers when the delay/cancellation is beyond the airline's control. If these strikes, by a tiny minority of Ryanair crew, were within Ryanair's control, there would be no strikes and no cancellations.
"In recent years during which there were over 15 days of pilot and cabin crew strikes in Germany, Lufthansa was not required to pay EU261 compensation. Similarly, the UK CAA should also explain why it took no action against BA during last year's cabin crew strikes."
"As these strikes are being promoted and driven by competitor employees, they are regrettably beyond Ryanair's control.
"Ryanair sincerely regrets these unnecessary customer disruptions, which have been called by unions at the behest of competitor airline employees."
Despite the industrial action, Ryanair said in an update on Twitter this morning that 90% of its flights would operate today.
Courtesy of Travelmole
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