Ryanair has lost its High Court bid to halt a planned two-day walkout by its UK pilots, set to get under way on Thursday (22 August).
The budget carrier had sought an injunction to nullify pilots union Balpa’s strike ballot, which returned a vote for action earlier this month.
Both Ryanair and Balpa have accused one another of declining to return to the negotiating table after talks broke down late last week.
Balpa said Ryanair was trying to halt the strikes via a technicality, and said it had “blown its chance” of resolving the dispute over pay and conditions.
The union’s Ryanair members in the UK voted four to one in favour of strike action on a 72% turnout.
Ryanair’s appeal was heard by the High Court on Wednesday (21 August) but was ultimately rejected.
However, the airline said thanks to the “great work and volunteerism of the vast majority of its UK-based pilots”, it now expected to operate a full schedule.
The airline has instructed passengers due to travel to or from UK airports on Thursday and Friday to arrive for their departure as scheduled, adding it did not expect “significant disruption” on either strike day but warned it could not rule out small delays or flight changes.
Ryanair’s Balpa members in the UK have further strike action planned for 2-4 September.
In a statement, Balpa said judge Mrs Justice Lambert DBE rejected Ryanair’s arguments and found Balpa’s ballot and procedures were lawful.
Balpa says it has extended an olive branch to Ryanair in the form of a framework to allow “constructive negotiations” to take place and avoid the need for strike action in future.
General secretary Brian Strutton said: “Ryanair was foolish to bring this into the High Court rather than the negotiating room. We offered to meet Ryanair management at Acas to negotiate a resolution, but instead they attempted a legal bludgeon. That’s backfired.
“However, we are clear that we want to settle the dispute and bring about a change in Ryanair for the better. We hope Ryanair will take up our offer of a way forward this evening so we can call off this action. We urge Ryanair to change their attitude to dealing with us, and adopt a constructive approach.
“In the event that Ryanair rejects our overture and therefore the action over the next two days does go ahead, we apologise to the passengers who will be affected. Such action could have been avoided if Ryanair adopts a different approach.”
Elsewhere, the High Court in Dublin on Wednesday ruled in favour of Ryanair and blocked a proposed strike by the airline’s Irish pilots, also scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
Judges ruled the Irish pilots union Forsa had not allowed talks with the airline to reach a conclusion before calling the strikes, the BBC reports.
In a statement, Ryanair said all of its flights scheduled to depart Irish airports in Thursday and Friday would operate as normal.