Ryanair set to resume talks with Irish pilots, aided by mediator


LONDON • Ryanair Holdings plc will start mediated negotiations with Irish pilots today in what may be the best chance yet of a breakthrough in a dispute over pay and contracts that’s hurting its earnings and disrupting travel for thousands of travellers.

The Forsa union, which represents Dublin-based Ryanair’s Irish flight crew, agreed to resume talks last Friday as its members joined a strike in five nations that led to the scrapping of flights due to carry more than 55,000 people.

While the industrial action is widespread, a breakthrough in Ireland is seen as key to resolving the increasingly bitter clash, since it was staff there who initiated the campaign for unionisat ion and better employment terms.

Ryanair had proposed mediation a week ago, suggesting Kieran Mulvey, a former chairman of the Irish Workplace Relations Commission, as an intermediary.

“Forsa’s focus will now shift to the negotiations,” it said, adding that Ryanair’s recognition of the need for an independent third-party facilitator had come too late to stop last Friday’s strike.

The meeting will mark the first time the two sides have sat down in the same room for 24 days, according to the union, which said there are no further plans for strikes right now.

The latest walkout, involving pilots from Germany, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Ireland, led to the scrapping of more than 400 flights, according to Ryanair.

That exceeds the 300 lost on two days last month when cabin crew in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium walked out.

Ryanair said the majority of affected passengers have been accommodated on its other flights and that more than 2,000 services or 85% of the schedule operated as normal.

“We want to again apologise to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling any more unjustified strikes,” it said by email. A spokesman declined to comment on the mediated pilot talks.

Germany’s Vereinigung Cockpit pilot union has warned that more strikes are likely as it pushes Ryanair to improve salaries, acknowledge seniority and ease up on requirements for pilots to move between bases.

Ryanair shares closed 4.2% lower in Dublin last Friday.