Dutch court says Ryanair pilots' strike can go ahead

A Dutch judge has said the Ryanair pilots' strike "may go ahead". — AFP

HAARLEM, Netherlands — A Dutch court told Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands Thursday they could join a wave of strike action planned across Europe, set to plunge thousands of passengers into summer travel misery.

"The strike may go ahead," judge Theo Roell told the Haarlem District Court, where Ryanair had filed for an urgent court order to halt the industrial action.

Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands announced Wednesday they were joining a European-wide walkout on Friday to ratchet up pressure on the cut-price airline in a row over pay and conditions at the height of the summer season.

Ryanair, which in the Netherlands flies to holiday destinations such as Malaga in southern Spain, the Canary Islands and Ibiza, said it would have to axe around 400 out of 2,400 European flights scheduled for Friday, affecting 55,000 passengers.

Germany will be the worst hit with 250 flight cancelations. In the Netherlands around 22 flights from Eindhoven airport could potentially be affected, the ANP news agency reported.

Europe's second biggest airline has been grappling with staff unrest since it recognized trade unions for the first time in December 2017, in a bid to ward off widespread strikes over the Christmas period.

But unions say little progress has been made on their demands for better wages and fairer contracts despite months of talks.

Ryanair sought an urgent court order in the Netherlands to prevent pilots from joining the strike, but the Dutch airline pilots' union told judges only a small number of flights from Dutch airports could potentially be affected. — AFP