Ryanair’s Ireland-based pilots have suspended a strike planned for Wednesday after the airline signalled a climbdown over union recognition.
The no-frills carrier had announced on Friday it would, for the first time in its 32-year history, agree to independent representation for its pilots as the Impact union had demanded.
The union confirmed on Sunday night that the one-day walkout would be suspended – pending the outcome of talks with Ryanair management scheduled for Tuesday.
The dispute involves more than 110 directly-employed pilots – the vast majority of them plane captains, meaning any walkout would have forced Ryanair to cancel many services just days before Christmas.
A four-hour stoppage planned in Italy for last Friday was stopped with hours to spare, while the union recognition dispute also involves pilot unions in Germany, Britain and Portugal.
Following a meeting that agreed to suspend its strike, Impact said in a statement: “The union has agreed to meet management on Tuesday evening, but says it is available to meet sooner.
“The union asked management to release its Ryanair pilot representatives to prepare for and attend the meeting.
“The union acknowledged the principled determination of Ryanair pilots, which it said had made this breakthrough possible, and said it looked forward to establishing a positive relationship with Ryanair company management.
“Impact added that it hoped the suspension of industrial action would remove any uncertainty for passengers intending to travel on Wednesday.”
The news will come as a relief for the airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, who was anxious to avoid a new PR disaster for Ryanair after a rota blunder revealed in the autumn forced the company to cancel flights affecting 700,000 customers.
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He said on Friday: “Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week.”
Impact said it would be making no further statement until after the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting.