THOUSANDS of Cork families are ‘being held to ransom’ in the dispute between Ryanair and its Irish pilots.
In total, 4,500 passengers, due to leave or arrive at Cork Airport next Thursday, face travel chaos as a Ryanair pilot strike is set to go ahead.
There are a total of 22 scheduled Cork flights that could be affected, including a number to some of Europe’s most popular family holiday destinations.
There are four flights due to leave for Spain, bringing passengers to Alicante, Malaga, Girona and Lanzarote. Further flights are to go to Milan and Faro in Portugal. A number of UK flights could also be affected by the industrial action, including two bound for London Stansted.
Passengers face an anxious wait to see if they will be able to go ahead with their travel plans, as Ryanair say they will not begin to communicate with their customers until Tuesday.
The company has described the strike as ‘unnecessary’ and called on the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) and its parent union Fórsa to meet Ryanair bosses and resolve the issues.
“We are sitting here helplessly waiting at the minute, hoping that Mr O’Leary and his team get it fixed,” said Cork-based travel agent Paul Dawson of Dawson Travel.
“The worry is if it doesn’t get fixed on Tuesday for July 12 that the pilots might have further strikes on later dates.
“It is just a shame that they are holding families to ransom. They pick these particular days because they know this is peak family holiday, and they are picking them for maximum effect.”
There have been numerous calls from irate passengers for Ryanair to make announcements sooner than Tuesday and Mr Dawson said the situation was creating stress for holidaymakers.
“We are going to have to wait until Tuesday to find out, which makes people very anxious,” he said.
“The problem is the accommodation is booked and could be now in a non-refundable situation. Rebooking might not be an option because of availability or price.”
He said the situation highlighted the importance of taking out decent holiday cover at the time of booking but said even that may not resolve all the issues at such a busy time.
“Most of our customers have taken it out so if we have to rebook at a more expensive rate, hopefully, that will kick in,” he said. “But that is if there are alternative flights to book them on, that is the issue.”
Ryanair faces further strikes in other European countries. Yesterday, Ryanair cabin crew announced they are to hold co-ordinated strikes in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium. They intend to confirm the dates of the industrial action today.