Members of Irish pilots union Forsa have voted 94% in favour of taking industrial action against Ryanair in a row over pay.
Forsa says it will now write to Ryanair's management next week to give details of industrial action, including strikes, unless the airline agrees to the union's pay proposals by 12 August.
The union says that, under pay claims it submitted to the airline in March, Ryanair pilots would receive pay and conditions in line with industry norms.
Industrial action could still be avoided if the airline engages constructively in talks, states Forsa assistant general secretary Ian McDonnell. He accuses the company of using stalling tactics to delay negotiations.
"Ryanair's directly employed Irish-based pilots are simply seeking pay levels that are common and competitive in the commercial airline sector, from a company that made a more-than-healthy profit of €1 billion last year," he says.
"They feel they have been forced into contemplating potentially disruptive industrial action by a company that seems either unwilling or unable to negotiate in a professional and constructive manner. At this stage, only a substantive counter-proposal, which properly addresses all areas of our claim, will be enough to prevent us serving notice of industrial action next week."
Ryanair says it is "disappointed" that Forsa pilots are threatening to disrupt customers' travel plans, and argues that the union's motion to strike has the support of less than a quarter of the airline's Irish pilots.
"The result of Forsa's ballot shows that less than half of Ryanair’s Irish pilots are members of Forsa, and less than 60% of these Forsa members participated in the ballot with less than 25% of Ryanair's Irish pilots voting for industrial action. This disruption of customers' holiday plans has no valid mandate from Ryanair's Irish pilots," says the airline.
It highlights its collective agreements with Forsa on promotions, transfers, seniority and, in April, a pay increase of up to 20% for pilots who had not agreed a previous pay increase, and complains that the union failed to provide further specific pay proposals. The airline also asserts that its pilots earn more than those flying for either Norwegian or Jet2.
There are 180 directly employed Ryanair pilots based in Ireland, who as members of the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association (IALPA), which is part of Forsa, were eligible to vote in the ballot. Agency-employed pilots were not able to take part.
This latest industrial dispute with Ryanair comes in the same week that unions representing pilots in the UK and Spain said they were seeking strike action against the company in protest at pay, conditions and job cuts.