Ryanair cabin crew cancels dozens of flights in Europe

Ryanair cabin crew cancels dozens of flights in Europe

Ryanair cabin staff cancels dozens of flights in Europe A Ryanair plane prepares to take off from Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport.

LISBON BRUSSELS Reuters - Some of the cabin crew at Ryanair went on strike in Belgium, Spain and Portugal on Friday in a dispute over pay and working conditions, causing limited disruption as the budget airline cancelled dozens of flights that left hundreds of passengers stranded.

Inflation in Europe has resulted in millions of workers struggling with a higher cost of living, prompting trade unions to demand higher wage increases, often backed by strike calls.

Airlines and airport operators across Europe have struggled with staff shortages to handle the flow of passengers as demand for travel bounces back with the end of most COVID 19 restrictions. British Airways workers plan to strike this summer, as well as at several other airlines, including British Airways.

Ryanair cabin crews in Belgium, Spain and Portugal called a three-day strike on Friday. Staff in France and Italy were expected to walk out over the weekend. On June 30 and July 1, the crews in Spain are set to strike again on June 30 and July 1 - 2.

Workers say the Irish airline does not respect local labour laws covering issues such as minimum wage and urge Ryanair's bosses to improve working conditions.

The conditions are terrible, said Ricardo Penarroias, president of SNPVAC, the union behind Portugal's walkout. A crew member is not allowed to take a bottle of water on a flight. Ryanair did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, but said last week it had negotiated labour agreements covering 90% of its staff across Europe and did not expect widespread disruption this summer.

After talks with operator TotalEnergies broke down, there are signs that the labour unrest is spreading to other sectors as the transport sector deals with a return to travel. French trade union CGT is organising a one day strike on Friday to seek higher wages for oil refinery workers.

With inflation running at more than 8% in the euro area, a 40 year high of 9.1% in Britain and double digits in some central and eastern European economies, authorities are worried about a wage-price spiral in which higher wage demands add to inflationary pressures.

The longer inflation stays high, the more likely it will influence wage negotiations, according to Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank chief.

The pilot and cabin crew unions of Brussels Airlines, the Belgian subsidiary of Lufthansa, also started a strike on Thursday. Over the three days, Brussels Airlines expects to cancel 60% of its 533 flights.

Belgium is likely to be the hardest hit by the Ryanair strike, with local media saying 127 flights at Brussels' Charleroi airport will be cancelled, affecting 21,000 passengers.

Two flights were cancelled on Friday in Lisbon, both of which were to Brussels. The USO said that 18 Ryanair flights between Brussels and Spanish cities were cancelled on Friday and Saturday.

The government in Spain forced the company to operate 73% -- 82% of flights over the strike period to maintain minimum services, obliging most to go to work.

The SNPVAC union said that not many flights would be cancelled from the Portuguese airports because of the airline's strikers on stand-by and asked cabin crew in other countries to replace them. Ryanair said SNPVAC represented only 3% of its staff in Portugal.

American Michael Rossides, 59, said he booked an EasyJet flight because he thought Ryanair would cancel, but that ended up not happening.

He said we wasted a lot of time, an extra couple of hours, and a few hundred dollars.