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Ryanair strike in Spain kicks off with hardly any cancelled flights

The first of the six days of strike action called by Ryanair’s cabin crew in Spain began on Friday with a much smaller impact than expected for travellers, as only a handful of flights from Belgium were cancelled.  

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In Spain, where Ryanair employs 1,900 people, no flights were cancelled except those heading to Belgium. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair on Friday decided to operate 100 percent of its scheduled flights to and from Spain, considering all of them protected by the minimum services decree approved by Spain’s Ministry of Transport.

The only flights which could not take off were those heading to Spain from Belgium, where the work stoppage led Europe’s biggest budget airline to cancel some of the 127 flights to and from Charleroi airport (near Brussels) that are scheduled from Friday to Sunday.

Spain’s Transport Ministry has argued there needs to be a balance between the “right to strike” and the “interest of travellers”.

However, it only ordered 73 to 82 percent of domestic flights to and from Spain’s mainland and its two archipelagos – the Canary and Balearic Islands – to be kept, and between 53 percent and 58 percent of its internal mainland flights to go ahead.

Unions said Ryanair went beyond what was required and forced staff to maintain 100 percent of flights, adding that they would take Ryanair to court as a result.

They also reported that the budget carrier summoned 80 percent more workers than on a normal day to carry out “imaginary” shifts.

“The company informed staff that all flights were subject to the minimum service, and threatened them with disciplinary action,” Ernesto Iglesias of local USO told reporters at Madrid airport.

The airline was not “respecting the law,” he added.

Security officers stand guard as Ryanair employees gather during a strike at Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas airport Madrid on June 24, 2022.  (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has been dismissive of the strikes. “We operate two and half thousand flights every day,” he said earlier this month in Belgium.

“Most of those flights will continue to operate even if there is a strike in Spain by some Mickey Mouse union or if the Belgian cabin crew unions want to go on strike over here,” he told journalists.

Ryanair cabin crew unions in Portugal and Belgium have also called a three-day strike starting on Friday, and in Italy and France on Saturday.

The strikes come as air travel has rebounded since Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

But many airlines, which laid off staff during the pandemic, are having trouble rehiring enough workers, forcing them to cancel flights. That includes easyJet, which has been particularly hard hit by employee shortages.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Ryanair strikes: Which Spanish airports are most affected?

Ryanair cabin crew in Spain resumed strike action on Monday. But which airports will be affected, and how long will it last?

Ryanair strikes: Which Spanish airports are most affected?

Ryanair’s long-running cabin crew walkout dispute returned to Spanish airports this Monday, 8th August. 

With several strikes throughout June and July, the union representing striking workers, Unión Sindical Obrera (USO), announced today that the industrial action will continue for five months – until 7 January 2023 – and take place every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until then.

READ MORE: Ryanair cabin crew in Spain begin latest round of strike action

During the first two weeks alone, it is anticipated that 1.4 million passengers will be affected – an average of 130,600 travellers every single day.

Which airports will be affected?

The budget Irish airline, a favourite of holidaymakers from Britain and Ireland, has operational bases across Spain and all could be affected by strike action throughout the rest of the year.

If you have booked a Ryanair flight to any of the following airports, keep in mind strike action will be happening on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the summer and likely until the end of the year if no agreement is made between striking staff and employers. 

Ryanair bases in Spain: Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona El-Prat, ​​Girona, Santiago de Compostela, Alicante, Palma, Ibiza, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, and Palma de Mallorca. 

The airports that will be most affected by the latest walk-outs are: Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat, Malaga, Alicante, Seville and Palma de Mallorca.

Both domestic and international flights will be disrupted, and with 650 routes, Ryanair has the highest passenger volume in the Spanish air travel market.

READ MORE: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights in August

Strikes

By 9am on the morning of Monday 8th, 61 flights had been affected by the latest wave of staff walkouts, with 10 cancellations and 111 delayed flights.

Unions demands include the immediate reinstatement of 11 workers who were sacked for taking part in strike action in July, an improvement to pay and working conditions, including putting salaries back to pre-pandemic level, and aligning the collective bargaining agreement with Spanish labour legislation.

Since the summer strike action began, there have been 16 total days of walkouts, which have caused over 300 cancellations and a 3,455 delays at Ryanair’s Spanish base airports. 

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