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Ryanair says formally recognises Irish pilots' union

[DUBLIN] Irish no-frills airline Ryanair said Thursday that it is formally recognising an Irish pilots' trade union in a bid to resolve a long-running row, but still faces strike threats elsewhere.

"Ryanair has this morning written to the Impact union confirming in writing that it is recognising Impact and its Ryanair company pilot council," the carrier said in a statement.

"Ryanair has also submitted a set of proposals on pay and conditions, procedures and dispute resolution for its Irish-based pilots, and looks forward to concluding an early agreement on these issues with its Irish Ryanair pilot company council." Impact added in a separate statement that it would meet with management on January 3 to hammer out a "comprehensive recognition agreement".

And the union added that the danger of strikes by Irish pilots had now receded for the time being.

"Ryanair management has today confirmed in writing that it now recognised Impact as the representative of the airline's pilots for collective bargaining purposes, with immediate effect," Impact said in a statement.

The union cautioned that it expected management to reach agreement on procedures quickly so that the parties could move on to negotiate "substantial issues" around pilots' pay and working conditions.

On that basis, the company's confirmation meant the danger of industrial action had "receded for the present," the union added.

Impact official Ashley Connolly welcomed what she described as a "breakthrough".

"This is good news for Ryanair pilots, passengers and shareholders," she said.

Ryanair had held initial discussions with Impact on Tuesday evening.

Those were the first since Ryanair had offered on Friday to recognise trade unions, prompting the suspension of strike action planned over the busy festive period - when many travellers head abroad for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The Dublin discussions marked the opening of a season of talks for Ryanair around the region.

The airline is also meeting German pilots this week before other appointments around Europe, including Italy, in early 2018.