Ryanair pilots have agreed to call off a proposed strike that threatened to disrupt flights before Christmas.

In a statement released on Sunday (17 December), the Impact union, which represents Irish-based pilots, confirmed the industrial action, which was scheduled to go ahead on Wednesday, had been suspended.

"Impact has this evening suspended a planned one-day strike of Ryanair pilots next Wednesday after company management agreed to recognise the union as the representative of Irish-based pilots," the union said.

"The union has agreed to meet management on Tuesday evening, but says it is available to meet sooner.

"The union asked management to release its Ryanair pilot representatives to prepare for and attend the meeting.

"The union acknowledged the principled determination of Ryanair pilots."

Impact added it will meet the airline's management on Tuesday, while Britain's Balpa union said over the weekend that it had accepted Ryanair's offer to represent British-based pilots, but only if the TUC federation of British trade unions was allowed to attend future talks.

Last week, the Irish carrier revealed it was prepared to recognise pilot unions, as it sought to avoid a series of strikes that could wreak havoc on its Christmas schedule.

The move marked a major milestone for the airline, which had steadfastly refused to recognise unions, and came after pilots in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal had threatened walkouts.

Michael O'Leary, the airline's chief executive, said the decision to recognise unions had been taken to ensure flights over the Christmas period would go ahead as planned.

"We wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week," he said on Friday.

"If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognise them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week," he added.

"Recognising unions will be a significant change for Ryanair, but we have delivered radical change before."

Following the announcement, Italian pilots' union ANPAC and Portuguese union Spac called off strikes which had been due to take place next week, while German union Vereinigung Cockpit insisted the airline had to "prove that this announcement is serious".

In Spain, meanwhile, there are no strikes planned for pilots but ground staff have not ruled out staging industrial action on 30 December.