Almost 400 Ryanair flights scheduled for Friday have been grounded because of pilot strikes, The Guardian reports.
Employees in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands are staging a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions.
The Irish airline, Europe’s largest by passenger numbers, said 396 flights were cancelled, which could affect more than 74,000 passengers.
Ryanair said it had informed customers as early as possible about the changes, but some said they had been given little notice.
Karen Millar wrote: “Many thanks to Ryanair for cancelling my flight home and ensuring all the de-stressing I have done on this trip is cancelled out in an instant.”
Others said they had to pay for extra nights in hotels and booking flights with other airlines.
Ryanair declined to provide a list of affected flights, but earlier this week, it said 250 flights to or from Germany would not take off on Friday. The airline posted on its website last week that in Ireland, where Ryanair said 25% of pilots were striking for the fifth time, 20 flights would be cancelled.
“Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible, advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options.
“The majority of customers affected have already been reaccommodated on another Ryanair flight. 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.”
In December, Ryanair agreed to recognise trade unions for pilots and cabin crew in an attempt to head off strikes planned in the run-up to Christmas.
The airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, had previously said he would rather cut off his hands than agree to union recognition.
However, after making deals with unions in countries including the UK and Italy, the airline has failed to engage with workers, the unions claim.
Pilots and cabin crew have responded with a string of strikes seeking better terms and conditions, with industrial action partly to blame for profits falling in the first quarter of Ryanair’s financial year.
Cabin staff in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain walked out for 48 hours last month. Ryanair responded to strikes in Ireland by issuing redundancy notices to 300 staff in Dublin and shifting some planes from Ireland to Poland.
The airline has been accused of unlawfully trying to deter workers from striking.
Ryanair said more than 340 (14%) of its flights were delayed on Wednesday due to staff shortages in France, Spain, Greece, the UK and Austria.