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Ryanair threatens to leave Belgian airports

15:58 15/07/2022

Amid ongoing strike actions from Belgian pilots and cabin crew over wages so low they are potentially in violation of the law, plus a post-pandemic high workload, Ryanair is threatening to abandon Belgian airports entirely. 

The Belgian pilots' unions, along with their French counterparts, are planning a strike for 23 and 24 July. Ryanair confirmed that it was not going to do anything to prevent the action, adding that it would potentially completely stop servicing Belgium’s airports, Brussels and Charleroi.

In a letter sent to all of its pilots based in Belgium, the budget airline accused would-be strikers of violating a 2020 agreement and added the threat of closing up shop, reports Le Soir.

“If your only tactic is to deny that you ever signed an agreement, refuse to negotiate and continue to call for strikes to try to undermine the 2020 agreement you negotiated, then there is no hope of an agreement and you will eventually have to explain to the pilots why they have to waste money on strikes and why business will eventually leave Belgian airports,” the letter read.

The company claims it has a global agreement with 80% of the pilots in its European network, implying that the Belgian ones are more demanding than those in other countries. 

It also attempted a display of goodwill by granting the possibility to apply the legal wage indexation used in Belgium. 

“Eighty percent of the pilots in our network are now covered by new negotiated long-term agreements, including accelerated wage restoration,” the letter said.

“You state that your position is that you will never sign a similar agreement in Belgium. Again, if that is your position, so be it, but you will be on strike for a very long time, hurting the company and undermining investment in Belgium, which represents 3% of our operations.”

While management and unions continue to argue in exchanges of correspondence, both parties say actual negotiations are not progressing. 

Ryanair’s latest communication makes clear that it does not intend to prevent the strike scheduled for the end of the month, which will likely result in significant delays and major inconveniences for customers. 

 

Written by Helen Lyons