Thousands of passengers due to travel abroad with Ryanair have been warned to expect disruption with pilots set to begin strike action this week.
Flights ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and early next month are due to be affected unless the High Court intervenes or an agreement is made.
When exactly are pilots set to strike?
Strikes will be held from 00.01am on Thursday August 22 until 11.59pm on Friday August 23 and from 00.01am on September 2 until 11.59pm on September 4.
Why are pilots leaving their cockpits?
The action is being held after a vote in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) voted by four to one to back a campaign of action on a 72% turnout.
Which flights are affected?
It remains unclear. As not all Ryanair services are led by Balpa pilots, the airline’s planes will still fly across the affected dates.
But tens of thousands are expected to be affected across the five days.
So what can passengers do?
Check with the airline. Ryanair normally issues two to three days’ notice of cancelled flights.
Airlines are required under the European Air Passenger Regulations to reimburse passengers or find alternative travel solutions at no extra cost.
Will passengers be due compensation?
Potentially. Airlines are bound by EU law to pay passengers if a flight is cancelled less than a fortnight before departure – with the exception of “extraordinary circumstance” – or delayed by more than three hours (up to £530).
Strike action doesn’t fall into the category of “extraordinary circumstance”, so passengers can apply to Ryanair for compensation unless they accept a refund.
Travel insurance does not normally cover strike action by airline staff.
How could the High Court intervene?
Balpa confirmed on Tuesday that Ryanair is seeking a High Court Injunction on Wednesday, a day ahead of the first walkout.
Should the court intervene the action could be blocked.
However, if the airline’s legal bid fails only a last minute shift in negotiations can prevent the walkout.
What is the union calling for?
A Balpa statement said the pilots’ claim includes “many issues including pensions; loss of license insurance; maternity benefits; allowances; and a fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure”.
Brian Strutton, Balpa’s general secretary, said: “No pilot wants to spoil the public’s travel plans but at the moment it seems we have no choice.”
The union said it has not received an offer from Ryanair and accused management of not “working with us constructively”.
How has Ryanair responded?
A Ryanair spokesperson said the airline was “disappointed that Balpa is threatening to disrupt our customers’ travel plans during late August, early September” and said the action is “ill-judged and ill-timed”.
The airline said the support for action amounted to “less than 30%” of Ryanair’s UK pilots as not all are members of Balpa and “just 57% voted in favour of industrial action”.
It said UK pilots agreed a 20% salary increase last year and claimed current earnings compared favourably against salaries offered by rival budget airlines Norwegian and Jet2.
The airline said it has written to the union asking the UK pilots to reconsider the walkout.
Ryanair also faces complications in its European operation this week and next month.
Which other nations’ staff are planning to strike?
Cabin crew in Portugal plan to strike between August 21 and August 25.
Ryanair is also facing industrial action in Spain in September (1, 2, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27) following the announcement 900 jobs are threatened.