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Ryanair suffers minimal disruption as UK pilot strike begins
[LONDON] UK flights operated by Ryanair Holdings have been taking off largely as scheduled as pilots in the discount carrier's biggest market begin a two-day strike ahead of the busiest travel weekend of the year.
The action started soon after midnight on Thursday after Ryanair failed to obtain a legal injunction blocking the walkout by members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA). Early morning services from London Stansted, the carrier's biggest base, appeared to operating largely as planned according to data from aircraft-tracking website FlightRadar24.
Ryanair and BALPA didn't immediately respond to emails and calls seeking comment outside of normal business hours.
Europe's biggest low-cost airline is slated to carry 259,000 people on more than 1,700 UK flights over the 48 hours of the strike, according to aviation-data provider Cirium. Annual travel peaks on Friday as Britons get away for the long weekend that extends through Monday, the last bank holiday of summer.
Ryanair said in a Twitter post that it expects to operate its full schedule - while not ruling out some delays or flight changes. The Dublin-based company has said that BALPA represents a minority of its UK pilots.
The union said after the court ruling that it was prepared suspend the walkout if Ryanair agreed to a framework for further negotiations, before adding that the overture had been rejected. The labour group is planning a further two-day walkout in September.
The London High Court decision contrasted with an earlier one in Ryanair's home market of Ireland, which barred pilots there from walking out.
Chief executive officer Michael O'Leary upped the ante in the labour clashes last month when he told pilots and flight attendants that hundreds of jobs must go and bases close to cope with a possible no-deal Brexit and slower growth after the grounding of Boeing Co's 737 Max jet.
Cabin crew at all 13 of Ryanair's Spanish bases have threatened to strike next month over plans to close three locations unless an agreement is reached with unions. Staff in Portugal are in the midst of a five-day action over holiday allowances and dues.