August 9, 2019 / 11:08 AM / 16 days ago

Ryanair Spanish pilots threaten strike as unrest spreads

DUBLIN, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Ryanair’s main pilots union in Spain will vote in the coming days on possible industrial action, including going on strike, in response to planned job cuts at the low cost carrier, the local SEPLA trade union said.

Members of Ryanair’s British pilot union voted this week to follow Portuguese cabin crew to the picket line this month with two two-day strikes from Aug. 22. Results are due later on Friday on a possible strike by some Irish pilots.

Europe’s largest budget airline suffered a number of strikes last year by pilots and cabin crew, forcing it to cancel hundreds of flights and hitting its profits after a rocky start to its move to recognise trade unions for the first time.

Ryanair managed to quell the disputes by reaching deals with many unions in Europe on pay and allowances, but has yet to move beyond recognition agreements with others and further angered unions by telling staff 10 days ago that it had 900 more pilots and crew than it needed.

The airline blamed delays in deliveries of Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX jet that forced it to halve growth plans for next year. SEPLA said Ryanair has threatened to fire 100 pilots in Spain as part of those plans.

“Our group is nervous and fed up with the continued abuse by Ryanair. We are going to show them that we are willing to do everything possible to avoid these unnecessary dismissals,” SEPLA said in a statement late on Thursday.

In response, a spokeswoman for Ryanair reiterated that consultations are taking place with staff at bases that will be affected by the planned winter closures.

Analysts at Goodbody Stockbrokers said that investor concern of an increasingly coordinated union response across Europe will be heightened by the possible action in Spain. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries Editing by Keith Weir)

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