Ryanair pilots strike in row over pay and conditions
Irish Ryanair pilots have taken part in a fifth day of strike action against the airline amid a row over pay and conditions.
Hundreds of Ryanair flights will not take off as planned on Friday due to pilot strikes in five countries.
Staff in Ireland joined others in Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands and staged a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions.
Forsa, which has been representing the Irish pilots, issued a statement on Friday morning saying that Ryanair's delay in agreeing to a third-party mediator meant Friday's strike went ahead.
It said: "The company's belated recognition of the need for an independent third-party facilitator, which Forsa has been suggesting throughout this impasse, meant today's (Friday's) strike by Irish-based pilots went ahead.
"This demonstrates the company's lack of experience of industrial relations.
"Similarly, its threat of redundancies and compulsory transfers of Irish-based staff to Poland was a crude and ineffective attempt to frighten pilots into backing down.
"Instead it had the effect – predictable to those well-versed in Irish industrial disputes – of reinforcing their resolve.
"Forsa regrets the inconvenience that today's strike – and the four previous strikes staged by the airline's directly-employed Irish-based pilots - have caused to passengers and potential passengers.
"Company management has previously attempted to paint its Irish pilots as outliers, saying that it was doing deals and conducting successful negotiations elsewhere in Europe.
"The fact that the company is facing separate disputes in four other countries today – and experienced strikes by cabin crew in a number of jurisdictions a couple of weeks ago – shows that this is not the case.
"The company is struggling with its industrial relations in many places."
Forsa said its focus will now shift to the negotiations that are due to get under way on Monday August 13.
It said: "Forsa has been willing to talk at any time, this will, regrettably, be the first time in 24 days that the two parties have sat down in the same room with a view to negotiating on the issues in dispute, which we believe can be resolved through negotiations."
The airline said 396 flights have been cancelled as a result, forcing passengers who planned to travel on Friday to rebook or take different routes.
Ryanair planes have a capacity of 189, meaning more than 74,000 passengers could be affected.
The Irish budget airline said the strikes were "regrettable and unjustified" and called for unions to come back to the negotiating table.
Despite the walkouts, 85 per cent of its scheduled flights, more than 2,000, will operate as normal, Ryanair said.
"Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options," the carrier said.
"The majority of customers have already been accommodated on another Ryanair flight.
"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."