* Irish pilots hold first ever strike
* Only 30 of 2,300 flights cancelled
* But strikes threatened in several countries (Updates with two new strikes planned)
By Conor Humphries
DUBLIN, July 12 (Reuters) - Pilots in Ryanair’s home country Ireland on Thursday announced two more one-day strikes, increasing pressure on Europe’s largest low-cost carrier to improve conditions to stave off a wave of industrial action across Europe.
Around 100 of Ryanair’s 350 Irish pilots held their first-ever strike on Thursday to demand a more transparent system of pay, promotions and transfers, aiming to limit what the FORSA/IALPA union says is excessive discretion management have over pilots’ careers.
The airline, which says its pilots have some of the best conditions in the low-cost sector, said it cancelled 30 flights from Ireland on Thursday, less than 2 percent of its 2,300 daily flights.
But it is facing a growing number of strike threats from pilot and cabin crew unions across Europe, including cabin crew strikes in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium later in July.
Irish union FORSA/IALPA on Thursday said it planned to hold two more one-day strikes on July 20 and July 24.
Pilots and cabin crew across the airline’s 86 bases began to organise after the cancellation of thousands of flights in late 2017 due to a shortage of standby pilots, which management said was due to a rostering mix-up.
In December, the airline gave in to growing pressure and recognised trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history.
But management have struggled to reach agreement with unions on new terms and conditions and the airline has been hit by industrial action in Germany and Portugal. It says some staff demands would undermine its low-cost business model.
A Ryanair spokesman said the airline was encouraging the Irish pilot union to accept an offer to form a working group to resolve the dispute, “but if they wish to hold another unsuccessful strike again, then so be it.”
The union said in a statement that it had found some common ground with Ryanair on the proposal, but had been unable to reach agreement on the terms of reference. It said it was regrettable that Ryanair was refusing to allow the involvement of a third-party mediation in the dispute.
Cabin crew in four countries have announced plans to strike in July and several other pilot unions are considering industrial action to demand improved conditions, including contracts under local rather than Irish law.
Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, is Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, according to the International Air Transport Association. (Reporting by Conor Humphries Editing by Edmund Blair and Alexandra Hudson)