Ryanair has lost a High Court battle to stop pilots from going on strike – but says flights will go ahead as scheduled on Thursday and Friday.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the airline said that it had been able to draft in enough pilots to operate a full schedule.
“Thanks to the great work and volunteerism of the vast majority of our UK based pilots, Ryanair now expects to operate its full schedule of flights to/from our UK airports,” it said.
Hitting out at striking pilots, the low-cost airline accused captains of making “unreasonable pay demands” just weeks before the UK is set to leave the EU.
These demands could “severely damage Ryanair’s business and UK pilot jobs”, the airline claimed.
A similar strike planned by Ryanair pilots in Ireland was derailed earlier when the Irish High Court approved Ryanair’s request to halt the industrial action.
Welcoming the court’s decision, the airline told passengers that all scheduled flights from Ireland would now depart as normal.
Ryanair pilots in both the UK and Ireland voted to strike earlier this month in a row over working conditions.
The pilots’ union has planned two walkouts – the first from 22-23 August, and the second from 2-4 September.
On Wednesday morning, Ryanair announced that it had applied to the UK High Court for a last minute injunction to prevent an “unjustified strike by a small minority of UK pilots”.
In response, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said that in seeking an injunction, Ryanair had “blown the chance of finding a resolution” before Thursday’s walkout, accusing the airline of using “bullying tactics”.
“Because Ryanair has wasted time with unnecessary court action, their chance to resolve the dispute involving their pilots has been lost”, a statement from the trade union said.
Balpa said its pilots were upset with working conditions at Ryanair, specifically citing the loss of benefits such as maternity leave, pensions, and licence insurance.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary told staff earlier this summer that the airline was planning to cut a number of jobs, blaming the “increasing likelihood” of a no-deal Brexit and the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max for creating uncertainty.
The 737 Max’s software is being investigated after the jet was involved in two deadly crashes just months apart.
Mr O’Leary said in a video message to Ryanair staff: “We already have a surplus of over 500 pilots and some 400 cabin crew.
“We will need about 600 less pilots and cabin crew for summer 2020.”