RyanAir pilot strike grounds 400 flights across Europe

Ryanair strike Dutch pilots are disputing working conditions

Ryanair pilots in several European countries are staging a strike that has prompted the budget carrier to cancel 400 flights.

It said in a statement that the action was "unjustified" and "regrettable", but said that 85 percent of its flights would still be operated, and said that it had done all that it could to prevent the dispute escalating into industrial action, adding that the "majority of customers affected have already been re-accommodated on another Ryanair flight".

The airline said 396 flights have been cancelled as a result, forcing passengers who planned to travel on Friday to rebook or take different routes.

Germany's powerful Cockpit union accused Ryanair of "categorically" ruling out higher personnel costs for cockpit crew, leaving no room for a compromise.

Belgium-based Ryanair pilots gather at Charleroi Airport as part of a European-wide strike.

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Ryanair, which averted widespread strikes before last Christmas by agreeing to recognise unions for the first time in its 30-year history, has been unable to quell rising protests over slow progress in negotiating collective labour agreements.

But the "once in a lifetime experience" of being at her best friend Justine's wedding seems impossible now, after Ryanair cancelled her flight with two days' notice.

Europe's largest low-priced airline recognized unions in December, but talks have so far failed to produce agreements on improved working conditions, or for contracts to be governed by the laws of the country where workers are based, rather than by Irish legislation.

Another key complaint of workers based in countries other than Ireland is the fact that Ryanair employs them under Irish legislation, arguing most of its employees work on board Irish planes.

"It's annoying that it's happening in the summer holidays, but it's the only means they have".

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A Dutch court also rejected a case from Ryanair seeking to block pilots in the Netherlands from joining Friday's strike, but the Irish airline said all of its flights there would run as scheduled. The company says it has made every effort to solve the dispute.

Ryanair flights departing Dublin Airport.

When is the Ryanair strike taking place?

'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'.

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