• Ryanair pilots in Belgium are conducting a planned industrial walkout on August 14th and 15th, resulting in passenger flight disruptions.
  • The strikes are due to ongoing wage disputes between Ryanair and its Belgian pilots, protesting salary reductions and alleged non-compliance with labor laws.
  • While Ryanair asserts that the strikes will have a limited impact on its schedules, over 40 flights will likely be canceled each day, representing about 25% of the airline's Belgium schedule.

Passengers flying with Ryanair to and from Belgium in the next two days could experience flight disruptions as the budget carrier's pilots conduct a planned industrial walkout from August 14th to the 15th. Although over 80 flights have already been canceled for the two days, Ryanair maintains that these will only have a limited impact on its Belgian schedules.

Another strike so soon?

The incoming two-day pilot strikes closely follow the most recent walkout on July 29th, which affected nearly 100 Ryanair flights from Brussels South Charleroi Airport. Approximately 17,000 passengers were affected by the day's strike, and the incoming two days will undoubtedly increase these numbers.

These strikes have resulted from unsettled ongoing wage disputes between Ryanair and its Belgian pilots, as the unions representing the striking pilots have been demanding the reversal of salary reductions that were previously introduced during the pandemic. The unions are also protesting against the unilateral contraction of the pilots' rest days and alleging that the Irish low-cost carrier has been uncompliant with Belgian labor laws.

A Ryanair aircraft taking off.
Photo: Rebius I Shutterstock

Another accusation from the unions was that since Ryanair has long returned to profits, the budget carrier should have little to no problem agreeing to their demands - specifically about the salaries. But since this dispute has dragged on for so long, Ryanair has not participated in recent negotiation attempts after having previously offered a deal that was rejected, as it highlighted:

"Ryanair Belgian pilots' union has already been offered the same pay deal as recently agreed by most other Ryanair pilots’ unions across the European Union, so these limited strikes serve no purpose. Ryanair calls on its Belgium-based pilots to now agree on this pay deal which has been approved by so many of their pilot colleagues across the rest of Europe."

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What's the forecasted impact?

Ryanair also brushed off the two-day strike, suggesting that only a small number of Charleroi Airport-based pilots will be participating and will have a less than significant impact on its schedules. This is despite the fact that more than 40 flights are likely to be canceled each day, which represents about 25% of the airline's Belgium schedule. According to the list of canceled flights published by Brussels South Charleroi Airport, 44 flights will be affected on each striking day.

And considering how over 80% of the airline's pilots participated in the July strikes, the airline's emphasis on a small number seems doubtful. Nonetheless, the reassurance comes as most of the airline's flights to and from Belgium will operate using aircraft based outside the country or on Charleroi-based aircraft operated by pilots who do not support these strikes.

Ryanair aircraft
Photo: Ryanair

The low-cost carrier also emphasizes that any passengers affected by the incoming disruptions have already been contacted via email to offer them a free move to other flights during the two days before or two days after the strike days - although there has been no estimate yet of how many passengers will have their travel plans disrupted from this industrial walkout.

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Will there be more to come?

But even after the strikes end, the consequential effects of the flight disruptions could still linger for many hours and a couple of days after, as Ryanair would need to clear passenger backlogs and reposition its fleet and crew accordingly. And considering how the striking pilots and their respective unions seem unwilling to accept the offered deal and with the low-cost carrier being just as reluctant to re-negotiate, further walkouts are likely to happen.

While the striking pilots and their unions might not be at any loss should the walkouts continue, and since Ryanair might be used to this routine after so long, it's yet again primarily the passengers who suffer the most from these strikes. Hopefully, this dispute between the airline and its pilots can be resolved soon, or at least before the year-end, before more passengers have their travel plans ruined.

  • Ryanair Boeing 737
    Photo: Ryanair
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Low-Cost Carrier
    Dublin Airport, London Stansted Airport, Milan Bergamo Airport
    Year Founded:
    Airline Group:
    Ryanair Group
    Eddie Wilson