Ryanair endured its worst one-day strike on Friday after a walk-out by pilots in five European countries disrupted the plans of an estimated 55,000 travelers with the budget airline.
Ryanair averted widespread strikes before last Christmas by agreeing to recognize unions for the first time in its 30-year history.
However, it has been unable to quell rising protests over slow progress in negotiating collective labor agreements.
Ryanair had announced the cancellations of 250 flights in and out of Germany, 104 to and from Belgium and another 42 in Sweden and its home market of Ireland, where around a quarter of its pilots were staging their fifth 24-hour walkout.
The airline expected the travel plans of 42,000 travelers to be hit by the action in Germany alone.
Ingolf Schumacher, pay negotiator at Germany’s Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union, said pilots had to be prepared for “a very long battle.”
Ryanair DAC is an Irish low-cost airline founded in 1984, headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland, with its primary operational bases at Dublin and London Stansted airports. In 2016, Ryanair was the largest European airline by scheduled passengers flown, and carried more international passengers than any other airline.
Ryanair operates more than 400 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with a single 737-700 used primarily as a charter aircraft, but also as a backup and for pilot training. The airline has been characterized by its rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model. Ryanair’s route network serves 37 countries in Europe, Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel and Jordan).
Since its establishment in 1984, the airline has grown from a small airline, flying the short journey from Waterford to London Gatwick, into Europe’s largest carrier. Ryanair now has over 13,000 people working for the company.
Most employees are employed and contracted by multiple agencies to fly on Ryanair aircraft. Or, as is the case for pilots, the vast majority are either agency employed or self-employed, and their services are contracted to the carrier.
After the rapidly growing airline went public in 1997, the money raised was used to expand the airline into a pan-European carrier. Revenues have risen from €231 million in 1998 to €1,843 million in 2003 and to €3,013 million in 2010. Similarly, net profits have increased from €48 million to €339 million over the same period.