FORSÁ, the union representing striking Ryanair pilots in Ireland, has welcomed the suggestion of third-party mediation in their dispute with the airline following four one-day strikes.
However any talks are likely to come too late to avert a fifth strike scheduled for next Friday, August 10.
Ryanair have suggested that Kieran Mulvey, former director general of the Workplace Relations Commission, could act as a mediator.
“Ryanair’s announcement that it will accept independent third-party assistance in its dispute with pilots, which was made without preconditions, is an unexpected and positive development,” said a Forsá spokesperson.
“The union, which has been calling for third-party assistance for many weeks, will consult with its members in the company, and looks forward to talking to Kieran Mulvey about when a process could begin.”
It is understood however that Mr Mulvey will not be available until August 14 at the earliest, meaning next Friday’s strike will go ahead.
Ryanair and Forsá have met just twice since the eve of the first strike on July 10, with the union claiming that Ryanair now refuses to negotiate while strike action is planned.
Adding fuel to the fire, Ryanair suggested their Irish pilots were overpaid and revealed plans to cut its Dublin fleet, which could result in 300 redundancies.
It has also said strike action across Europe could affect its business model and force the airline to review its winter schedule, resulting in job losses.
The Irish pilots are seeking an agreement on a fair and transparent approach to base transfers and related matters.
Strikes in Ireland on July 10, 20, 24 and August 3 have seen up to 30 of the airline's 290 flights between Ireland and Britain cancelled on each day.
The fifth strike next Friday will see 20 of 300 flights to and from Ireland cancelled, affecting 3,500 customers.
The strike will coincide with similar action from Ryanair pilots in Sweden and Belgium, and possibly the Netherlands and Germany.