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The Dublin-based Ryanair is known for promoting knock-down ticket prices. Photo: AFP / PASCAL PAVANI

Ryanair has cancelled a number of flights to a European hotspot this month due to the upcoming strikes.

Ryanair has issued a warning to passengers about an upcoming pilot strike which is going to lead to several flights remaining grounded. Pilots from the low-cost carrier based at Charleroi Airport in Belgium are set to hold a strike for two days. The strike will take place from August 14 to August 15, following a dispute over higher pay and working hours, according to The Sun.

Will affected passengers get a refund?

Therefore, Ryanair expects to cancel around 80 flights to and from Belgium over the two days, affecting 40 of its 170 scheduled daily flights. This follows strike action in July, which cancelled hundreds of flights. The industrial action took place on July 15 and 16 when two trade unions - CNE and ACV Puls - and the pilots' union Beca walked out over pay and working conditions.

Ryanair has ensured that any passengers affected by the strikes will be contacted about alternate options or refunds. If booked to fly on the strike days, the passengers will be allowed to board other flights either on August 14 or 15, or during the two days before or two days after the days of industrial action, according to Liverpool Echo.

Meanwhile, Ryanair's customers who have not received any email from the airline regarding a flight change can expect their flights to operate as scheduled on Monday or Tuesday.

Why are pilots in Belgium going on strike?

Ryanair supposedly told pilots in Belgium that it wanted to cancel an agreement on working hours and rest. Pilots also agreed to take a 20% pay cut at the start of the pandemic which is still in place.

However, the Dublin-based airline has claimed that it has offered the Belgian pilots the same deal as recently agreed by most other Ryanair pilots' unions across the EU.

The unions sent out an advance apology to their passengers who are going to be affected by these strikes. "We apologise in advance to passengers planning to travel with Ryanair between now and October 2024 who may be affected by these strikes. But we can no longer allow Ryanair to violate the basic principles of Belgian social dialogue," the union said in a press release.

Nearly 80% of Ryanair's pilots participated in the strikes earlier this year in July, which saw 120 flight cancellations at Charleroi Airport, which is located 45 minutes south of the Belgian capital. During the second round of strikes on 29-30 July, almost 100 flights were cancelled.

During the strikes in July, flights to Bosnia, Croatia, France, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden were affected.

Ahead of the upcoming strikes, Brussels Charleroi Airport has urged passengers travelling on strike dates to check their flight status before travelling. It has ensured that the travellers will be notified by text or email within 48 hours of departure if their flight is cancelled.

It is also understood that more strikes could be announced until the COVID-19 agreement expires in October.

Ryanair, however, has confirmed that flights that operate with crews based outside of Belgium will take place as usual.

Strikes set to take place Gatwick Airport

A few pilot strikes are anticipated to take place at London's Gatwick Airport later this month.

UK's union members working for ground handling company Red Handling are set to be on a strike for four days from August 18, and a further four days from August 25, which includes the month's bank holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, members of the union employed by Wilson James, which operates Gatwick's passenger assistance contract, will also walk out for three days from August 18, and a further three days from August 22. These strikes are expected to involve more than 230 workers in total.