World Bulletin / News Desk
Tens of thousands of passengers were hit by transport chaos on Friday as Ryanair pilots across Europe went on a coordinated 24-hour strike to push their demands for better pay and conditions at the peak of the busy summer season.
Around 55,000 passengers are affected by the strikes, said Ryanair, which has offered customers refunds or the option of rerouting their journey.
Ryanair has slammed the strikes as "unnecessary" but pilots counter that the carrier has refused to engage in meaningful dialogue about collective labour agreements since it began recognising unions in December 2017.
Germany is worst hit by the industrial action, with 250 flights scrapped at 10 airports.
The country's powerful Cockpit union said it had called on Ryanair's roughly 480 Germany-based pilots to walk out from 03:01 am (0101 GMT) until 02:59 am Saturday.
"There needs to be a rethink at the Dublin company headquarters on how employees are treated," said Ingolf Schumacher, who heads Cockpit's salary policy division.
"Ryanair said there is not one extra cent for personnel costs," he noted, adding that "therefore, no improvement is possible."
Cockpit's president Martin Locher said Ryanair was solely "responsible for the escalation we are now seeing".
In Brussels, around two dozen pilots protested at Charleroi airport, wearing mock badges with slogans like "Ryanair must change" or "Respect us".
In the Netherlands, Ryanair lost a bid to obtain an urgent court order to try to prevent Dutch pilots from joining the industrial action, but the airline said flights to and from the country would not be cancelled.
The Dutch flights count among more than 2,000 flights -- 85 percent of its schedule -- that would operate as usual across Europe on Friday.
Customers were notified as early as possible and a majority of those affected had already been rebooked, the airline added.
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