Ryanair says it may trim expansion plans due to strikes

DUBLIN, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Ryanair will consider cutting its growth plans for this winter and next summer if staff strikes continue, a senior executive said on Tuesday after announcing that 30,000 passengers will be grounded by a cabin crew strike on Friday.

The Irish airline, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, said in July it planned annual passenger growth of 7 percent to 139 million in the year to March 2019 and another 9 percent growth to 152 million in the year to March 2020.

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13 best airlines in the world in 2018
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13 best airlines in the world in 2018

13. Wizz Air — 7.95. The budget Hungarian airline is reliable for being on time with an 88% on-time performance score, although a 6 on quality of service brought it down in the ranking.

12. Norwegian — 8. With a solid 8 for service and 8.61 for claim processing, the airline which boasts the world's longest low-cost route from London to Singapore came in at 12 for its well-rounded experience.

See what it's like to fly on Norwegian here.

11. KLM — 8.01. The Netherlands' Royal Dutch Airline has a good on-time performance of 85%, as well as a decent 7.54 for claim processing and 8 for service.

10. Virgin Atlantic — 8.04. The UK's Virgin Atlantic also scored well all around, with another 8 for service, 7.95 for claim processing, and 82% for punctuality.

9. Air Malta — 8.09. This lesser-known airline is incredibly efficient at processing claims with a score of 9.13 and pretty reliable for being on time at 86%, brought down only slightly by a service score of 7.

8. Qantas — 8.12. You can expect a punctual flight on Qantas — which now flies non-stop from Perth, Australia to London — with a rating of 89%, as well as an 8 for service.

See what the food is like on the nonstop Perth to London flight here.

7. Aegean Airlines — 8.19. This Greek airline is punctual with a score of 90%, as well as a surprisingly solid service score of 8.

6. Austrian Airlines — 8.25. Another impressive claim processing score comes from Austria's airline, which also scored an 8 for quality of service.

5. South African Airways — 8.31. The 8.69 claim processing score, 8 on service, and 85% on-time performance put South Africa's airline in fifth place.

See what it's like to fly business class on South African Airways here.

4. Singapore Airlines — 8.33. Set to launch the longest flight in the world at 19 hours from Singapore to New York, it's lucky Singapore's airline offers a full 10/10 for quality of service, as well as 85% on-time performance. Only its claim processing score — 6.77 — brought it down to fourth place this year.

See what it's like to fly first class on Singapore here.

3. Etihad Airways — 8.43. The UAE's Etihad is constantly named among the best airlines in the world, and with a score of 9 on service, 86% for punctuality, and 7.47 for claim processing, it's easy to see why.

Here's what it's like to take a $10,000 flight on Etihad Airways' First Class.

2. Lufthansa — 8.57. The German airline came in second place thanks to its score of 10 for service and 8.63 for claim processing, beat out only due to it 76% punctuality score.

See what it's like to take a £4,500 first class flight on Lufthansa here.

1. Qatar Airways — 9.07. The best airline in the world, according to the AirHelp Score, is Qatar Airways, which landed a perfect 10 for quality of service, an 8.86 claim processing score, and an 89% on-time performance score.

See what it's like to fly first class on the best airline in the world here.

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But it has said that a string of strikes by pilots and cabin crew since it recognized trade unions for the first time last December has damaged bookings just as strong increases in oil prices threaten to push up costs.

"These repeated unnecessary strikes are damaging Ryanair’s business and our customer confidence at a time when oil prices are rising strongly," Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said in a statement.

"If they continue, it is inevitable that we will have to look again at our capacity growth this winter and in summer 2019."

Jacobs said that 30,000 people would be grounded on Friday by cabin crew strikes in Spain, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Italy and Germany, which had forced it to cancel 190 of 2,400 flights.

All affected customers have been given three day's notice of the cancellations, it said.

Ryanair said it had made significant progress in recent weeks with union negotiations and said it had offered talks to staff from the five countries offering them improved conditions.

"We hope these unions will see common sense and work with us to finalize agreements for the benefit of our pilots and cabin crew over the coming weeks without further disrupting our customers or our flights," Jacobs said.

In September 2017 Ryanair cut its planned capacity for the summer of 2018 after a shortage of standby pilots led to the cancellation of thousands of flights.

But at the time it said its ambitious long-term growth plan to fly 200 million passengers per year by 2024 remained intact.

Its statement on Tuesday did not specify how much capacity it might cut. (Reporting by Conor Humphries, editing by Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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