Ryanair cabin crew threaten 'biggest strike action this company has ever seen'

Hugh Morris
Ryanair has had to deal with a summer of strikes - JANIFEST

Ryanair cabin crew in five European countries will this week decide whether to stage the “biggest strike action the company has ever seen” later this month, a move that could lead to the cancellation of scores of flights.

Staff in Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands have threatened to walk out in the last week of September over demands that they be handed local contracts, rather than the Irish contracts the Dublin-based airline uses for its European workforce.

Italy is the budget airline's largest market, while Spain is third behind the UK in second. 

The low-cost carrier has suffered a tumultuous summer, being forced to cancel hundreds of flights thanks to strikes from both its Irish pilots and cabin crew across the Continent.

Michael O’Leary, the airline’s combative chief executive, might have the thought the disruption was behind him when Ryanair agreed in August a deal with striking Irish pilots.

But cabin crew unions have said they plan to hold “the biggest strike action the company has ever seen” and invited more groups, including pilots, to join them. Unions have said they will decide on Thursday whether the action will go ahead.

Ryanair, which says its staff have better pay and conditions than workers at its rivals, has this summer been proactive in cancelling flights when strike action has been announced, but there has been no news as yet.

Meanwhile, German pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit called for a 24-hour strike beginning early Wednesday morning and affecting all Ryanair flights out of Germany, in an effort to improve wages and work conditions.

What to do if your flight has been cancelled

Am I entitled to a refund if my airline cancels my flight?

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.

Will I get compensation?

Airlines are not liable to pay the additional cash compensation set out by EU regulations because they are not directly responsible for the disruption.

What should I do 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.

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.