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Thousands of travelers affected in Europe by Ryanair strike

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Associated Press
MADRID

Thousands of travelers in Europe saw their plans disrupted Friday after airline Ryanair cancelled more than 200 flights because of strikes by cabin crew in Spain, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Italy and Germany.

The budget airline says it had informed passengers of possible disruptions ahead of time, giving them time to adjust.

In Tenerife, Spain, hundreds of passengers queued at Ryanair counters and dozens more at the Madrid airport as 86 flights of the low-cost company from or to Spain were cancelled, affecting some 16,000 passengers, according to Spanish unions.

The unions blame the Ireland-based company for breaking talks over the company’s ratio of outsourced workers, working conditions and their demand for local contracts instead of Irish ones.

In a statement Thursday, the company blamed cabin crews of competitors for organizing the strikes and blocking “significant progress” in labor negotiations.

But the Brussels-based European Cabin Crew Association, which says it has more than 35,000 members, supported the walkout over what it described as the airline’s “inflexibility, single-mindedness and unreasonable behavior.”

The association alleged Ryanair was intimidating strikers by threatening them with job losses.

As the company and labor groups traded accusations, some passengers left on the ground by the cancellations were galled.

“They (Ryanair) sent me a text saying, ‘Have a look at your email.’ I don’t have an email,” said Eddie Hughes from Norfolk, England, at Madrid airport.

Spanish cabin crew workers’ unions said cancelations could be increasing throughout the day. Airports in Valencia, Mallorca and Tenerife are the most affected, the unions said.

In Portugal, 13 morning flights were canceled and in the Netherlands, 14 of 22 flights were cancelled.

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