AMSTERDAM - Pilots are suing Ryanair over the closure of its base in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, unions said Friday, accusing the carrier of trying to break strikes with the move.
The Irish airline announced on October 1 it would take all four aircraft from Eindhoven, and would try to minimise job losses and offer pilots other places in Europe.
Ryanair made the announcement after warning profits would be hit by walkouts in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain that forced it to cancel hundreds of flights in the summer season.
The lawsuit by 17 pilots is against Ryanair "forcing to transfer the employees abroad without a good reason" but the "final goal" was to keep the base open, said Joost van Doesburg, spokesman for the VNV Dutch pilots union.
"We very clearly see that Ryanair is choosing this base transfer just to break the strikes in the Netherlands," he said.
"They are giving a very clear example to the rest of their network in the rest of Europe: 'if you go on strike, we will retaliate'. And we want to stop this of course."
He said Ryanair was informed of the decision on Thursday and the court hearing was expected on October 18.
A total of 49 Ryanair pilots would be affected by the move, the union said.
Ryanair said Eindhoven would close on November 6 "and our pilots have been offered jobs elsewhere in the network.
"If they choose not to transfer, then we will respect their wishes but there will be no jobs remaining at Eindhoven," it said in a statement.
The airline cut its annual net profits forecast by 12 percent owing to the recent walkouts.
Ryanair has said it will also remove the only two planes based in Bremen, Germany, while two out of five aircraft stationed in Niederrhein, Germany, will also be grounded.
Ryanair staff have been seeking higher wages and an end to the practice whereby many have been working as independent contractors without the benefits of staff employees.