Updated: 19/12/17 : 08:13:16
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Historic meeting between Ryanair and union to avert strike

Ryanair will meet with a union for the first time in its 32-year history in a bid to avert threatened industrial action by pilots.

A one-day strike had been planned for tomorrow and would have mostly involved captains operating out of Irish bases but doubtless have a severe knock-on effect.

Pilots' union IMPACT has said there is an urgent need to end the uncertainty.

It believes the meeting is necessary to explore Ryanair's offer of recognition to allow them to make a determination on calling off the industrial action.

Ryanair has also offered to meet the Portuguese union on Thursday and the British and Italian organisations in early January.

In industrial relations terms, today's meeting between the airline and IMPACT is historic.

No company has fought harder to keep unions out, including taking key cases that have both challenged and shaped the law on collective bargaining in Ireland.

The airline reversed its long standing policy of refusing to recognise unions last Friday when faced with pilot strikes in Ireland, Italy and Portugal tomorrow.

Pilots suspended their strike to allow for talks but reserved the right to resume their industrial action if Ryanair does not engage in good faith.

The climbdown by Ryanair and its Chief Executive Michael O'Leary means that for the first time, pilots can bring in professional representation.

Market analysts anticipate this could increase Ryanair's cost base by up to 150m a year - and even more, if thousands of cabin crew and other support staff also seek union representation.

They say that in turn it could affect the airline's ability to meet its targets for 2018 and 2019, due to higher labour and fuel costs.