FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair airplane taxis past two parked aircraft at Weeze Airport, near the German-Dutch border, during a strike of Ryanair airline crews in Weeze, Germany, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo
Ryanair pilots have said they will walk out on Thursday and Friday © Reuters

Ryanair lost a High Court bid to block a strike by its British pilots after a judge dismissed the airline’s request for an injunction, but the carrier said there would be minimal disruption to passengers ahead of the busy bank holiday weekend.

Europe’s biggest budget carrier had sought an eleventh-hour injunction against the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) union, which had called for strike action on Thursday and Friday this week. Late on Wednesday Balpa confirmed that the strike would go ahead

The planned walkout would be the latest in a long-running battle between Ryanair and unions. Ryanair agreed to recognise unions in late 2017 but has struggled to reach terms with many of them and was hit with intermittent strike action last summer over the issue.

Ryanair said it “regretted” the court’s decision, adding that it still expected to operate its full schedule of flights to and from UK airports. It cautioned, however, that it could not rule out some “small flight delays and/or flight changes”.

Balpa said in a statement that it would offer an “olive branch” to Ryanair that could avert strike action, “a framework to allow constructive negotiations to take place and if agreed by Ryanair will avoid the need for strikes”.

“Ryanair was foolish to bring this into the high court rather than the negotiating room,” said Brian Strutton, Balpa general secretary, adding that the union had offered to meet the airline’s management to negotiate a resolution “but instead they attempted a legal bludgeon”.

Pilots, he added, were “seeking the same kind of policies and agreements that exist in other airlines – our demands are not unreasonable”.

“We hope that Ryanair will take up our offer of a way forward this evening so we can call off this action.”

Ryanair said the decision to strike had been made by “less than 30 per cent of our highly paid UK pilots” in support of “unreasonable pay demands”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ryanair was granted an injunction to stop a strike planned by its Irish-based pilots. The Irish high court granted the injunction, halting strike action planned by 180 Ryanair pilots who are members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association. The court had agreed with legal arguments presented by Ryanair that the union had not allowed for a mediation process to be completed before calling the strike.

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