Around 250 Ryanair flights have been cancelled - including dozens to and from UK airports - after another wave of strikes by disgruntled staff in Europe.
An estimated 2,000 employees of the low-cost airline, including cabin crew in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as Dutch and German pilots, have stopped work for 24 hours on Friday in a long-running dispute over pay and labour contracts. It is the second coordinated walk-out by Ryanair's European workers in two weeks and the latest chapter in what has been a tumultuous year for the Irish carrier. One in six flights were grounded on August 10 after pilots across five countries walked out.
Ryanair has insisted that just “a tiny minority” of cabin crew are responsible for the latest industrial action. “We sincerely apologise to those customers affected by these unnecessary strikes on Friday, which we have done our utmost to avoid,” said Kenny Jacobs, the airline's chief marketing officer.
Which flights have been cancelled?
The worst affected UK airport is Stansted, with departures to Eindhoven, Pisa, Lisbon, Milan, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin among those cancelled. Services from Manchester to Berlin, Barcelona, Malaga and Faro have been hit, as have a handful of flights from Birmingham and East Midlands airports. However, the vast majority of Ryanair flights across the continent - 92 per cent, according to the airline - are running as normal.
Ryanair says affected passengers - around 30,000 in total - have been notified via email and text message.
Am I entitled to a refund?
Yes. European Union regulations require airlines to offer you either a full refund for the unused parts of your tickets, or to re-route you to your destination as soon as possible. Some airlines may also allow you to rebook your flights for a later date at no extra cost. Speak to Ryanair about your options.
What if I am stranded abroad?
EU regulations make it clear that, when a flight with an EU airline or from an EU airport is cancelled, an airline is liable to pay for the cost of a hotel and subsistence for all those stranded as a result, until a replacement flight is provided. Should your airline advise you to buy your own food and accommodation, keep all receipts, and keep such costs to a reasonable minimum, before making a claim when you get back to Britain.
Will I get compensation?
Under EU regulations, passengers on cancelled flights can claim cash compensation of up to €250 (for short-haul services) or €400 (for longer flights). However, compensation is not payable in the case of “extraordinary circumstances”. The Civil Aviation Authority has urged affected passengers to make a claim, but Ryanair says it will refuse to pay out because it is not responsible for the strikes.
What about package holidays?
Those passengers on package holidays who are stranded in a destination should be looked after by their tour operator, and the operator is legally obliged to get them home. Customers will usually be allowed to stay in their original hotel, or will be moved to one of a similar standard on a half-board or all-inclusive basis. The exact situation will depend on the operator’s booking terms and conditions.
My flight has been cancelled - can I cancel my accommodation?
If you have booked a hotel, a villa or other accommodation independently of your travel arrangements (i.e not as part of a package holiday) your contract is directly with the hotel or villa and you are responsible for any cancellation. If you can’t get there, you will have to do your best to persuade them to give you a refund or rebook for a later date – but they are not obliged to do this and you may lose money.