News World Tempers soar sky high as Ryanair strands 55,000 passengers
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Tempers soar sky high as Ryanair strands 55,000 passengers

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Passengers wait at Ryanair's check-in desks at Alicante airport in Spain. Photo: AAP
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Thousands of angry Ryanair passengers have taken to social media to vent their frustration after the budget airline cancelled nearly 400 flights, grounding 55,000 passengers as pilots went on strike over pay and conditions.

“You are an absolute joke,” tweeted one passenger who landed in the UK after a five-hour delay because there was nowhere for Ryanair to “park the plane”.

Another described how their flight “disappeared” from a departure screen. Other would-be passengers said they were “left for dead” and “held captive” on idle planes with no food or water.

Others were screaming out for lost luggage. One customer claimed he was handed a $450 cheque in compensation but it “bounced”.

Passengers shared stories of how Ryanair ruined their holidays or forced them to miss weddings and family events.

The international catastrophe began when Ryanair staff in Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands staged a 24-hour walk-out on Friday (local time) with German union, Cockpit.

The union says employee contracts need to be governed by relevant national laws where Ryanair staff are based, not by Irish legislation.

The airline’s management has said they are making every effort to resolve the dispute, while also calling the strike “regrettable and unjustified”, claiming pilots are paid more than other budget airlines.

“Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible, advising them of … refund or re-route options,” a Ryanair spokeswoman said.

“The majority of customers affected have already been re-accommodated” on other Ryanair flights.

“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”.

The airline says all customers have been contacted and offered refunds or alternative flights. Some 85 per cent or more than 2000 scheduled flights will operate as normal, it promised

The company built its low-cost business model without unions, but in December agreed to recognise trade unions for pilots and cabin crew in an attempt to head off strikes in the lead-up to the busy Christmas period.

The Friday walkout follows cabin staff in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium striking for 48 hours last month, resulting in Ryanair announcing 250 flight cancellations in and out of Germany, 104 to and from Belgium and another 42 flights in Sweden and Ireland last month.

Ryanair sought to block pilots in the Netherlands from joining the strike but a Dutch court on Thursday rejected the case.

Cabin crew unions defended the pilots’ strike action, saying they were “united” and that they admired and supported the “brave” decision to take industrial action.

“It is time for them [Ryanair] to realise that everyone working for Ryanair demands fair treatment and a living wage, no matter whether we are directly employed or not.”

“We are one staff and we all deserve better.”

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