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Hundreds of Ryanair flights cancelled today as pilots strike in five countries

Hundreds of Ryanair flights cancelled today as pilots strike in five countries

As many as 250 flights across Germany have been hit, with the airline having earlier this week announced an additional 146 cancelled across Ireland, Belgium and Sweden. Irish pilots recently staged four one-day walkouts, while cabin crew in Spain, Belgium, Italy and Portugal went on strike on July 25 and 26.

A spokesperson said: "Ryanair fully complies with all EU261 legislation, however as these flight cancellations were caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due".

Aircrafts of low-priced airliner Ryanair are parked at the tarmac of Weeze airport near the German-Dutch border during a wider European strike of Ryanair airline crews to protest slow progress in negotiating a collective labour agreement at Weeze airport, Germany, August 10, 2018.

Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, averted widespread Christmas strikes last year by agreeing to recognise trade unions for the first time in its 33-year history.

A Ryanair spokesman said: 'Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options.

"If this isn't available on the same or next day then we will accommodate you to your end destination on airlines with whom we have a reciprocal agreement".

The airline said that over 2,000 flights, or 85 percent of the schedule, would operate as normal and that the majority of passengers affected have been re-booked on other Ryanair services.

Unions also want the airline to give contractors the same work conditions as staff employees.

Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair marketing director, called the strike "useless", and said that Ryanair pilots are paid better than their counterparts at competitor airlines Easyjet or Norwegian.

He added that Ryanair had already offered a 20 per cent pay rise this year, and 80 per cent of its pilots in Germany were now on permanent contracts.

But its combative chief executive Michael O'Leary has also warned the airline may shift jobs and planes to more profitable areas if the turmoil continues.

"Today our members are on strike to demand their rights".

At Charleroi Airport, Belgium's second largest and a major Ryanair hub in the region, striking staff gathered in the departure hall and held up banners reading "Ryanair must change- Respect us".