Ryanair boss: Strikes ‘price to pay’ for low fares

Flight disruption caused by striking airline pilots is the price to pay for low fares, Ryanair chief executive is reported to have said.

Michael O’Leary said that the budget airline was “willing to accept strikes” if it meant that it could keep ticket prices low.

He stressed that Ryanair would never cave in to all of its pilots’ demands – including paying wages similar to British Airways – because it would result in higher fares.

Ryanair cabin crew in Spain, Portugal and Belgium staged a 48-hour strike in July, leading to the cancellation of about 600 flights. Pilots based in Dublin have also held five days of strikes in recent months.

The airline cancelled 150 of 400 flights in and out of Germany yesterday after pilots and cabin crew based in the country staged a 24-hour walkout.

German unions claimed that the airline was failing to offer satisfactory deals on pay and working conditions.

Ryanair said that most pilots across Europe had reached settlements and that it would not be held to ransom by unions.

“We will not roll over every time we’re threatened with a strike and concede some higher cost basis,” Mr O’Leary was reported by The Times as saying.

“We don’t want strikes but we are willing to accept strikes, put up with them, if it means defending our cost basis and our ability to offer low-fare air travel to our customers.”

His comments came as Ryanair released its largest summer schedule from London-area airports for 2019.

Three new aircraft will be based at Southend and two more at Luton with a total of 23 new routes across four airports, including Stansted and Gatwick.

Southend gains new routes to Alicante, Bilbao, Brest, Copenhagen, Cluj, Corfu, Dublin, Faro, Kosice, Malaga, Milan, Palma, Reus and Venice.

Six new routes will operate from Luton to Alicante, Athens, Barcelona, Bologna, Cork and Malaga.

Kiev, Lviv and Nantes are new destinations from Stansted.

O’Leary said: “We remain concerned at the increasing risk of a hard (no-deal) Brexit in March 2019.

“While we hope that a 21-month transition agreement from March 2019 will be agreed, recent events in the UK have added uncertainty, and we believe that the risk of a hard Brexit, which could lead to flights being grounded for a period of days or weeks, is being underestimated.”

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