Ryanair is to announce the cancellation of 24 flights today, affecting thousands of passengers, after a pilot union refused to postpone its planned strike action for Friday.
The airline had invited representatives of trade union Forsa to a meeting this morning to discuss the ongoing dispute over how holidays, promotions and transfers are allocated among pilots.
The disagreement has already seen one 24-hour strike last week. Ryanair said that unless the pilots agreed to postpone their strike by 5pm yesterday, it would be forced to announce today the cancellation of 24 flights, mainly between Ireland and the UK, for Friday.
However, the trade union confirmed to the Irish Independent that this deadline was not met.
"We needed more notice than what they had asked," Forsa explained.
"We're in the business of solving an industrial dispute.
"The earliest we can meet them is on either Wednesday or Thursday."
In a letter to the union, Eddie Wilson, chief people officer at Ryanair, called for the planned strikes for this Friday and next Tuesday to be postponed.
He said that otherwise a raft of flights would have to be cancelled.
"Irish families who have saved all year will have little sympathy for these unnecessary cancellations imposed upon them by a tiny group of workers who earn between €150,000 to €200,000 per annum and who enjoy better conditions than almost any other group of workers in Ireland," he said. Mr Wilson appealed to the union to accept the offer to meet the airline's operations team at Ryanair's headquarters in Swords, Dublin, at 9am.
Mr Wilson said many of the proposals made by Forsa at a meeting with airline management last week were "contradictory and work to the disadvantage of Irish pilots and our business model".
Around 100 pilots who are directly employed by Ryanair mounted pickets during their strike last Thursday.
The pilots want the introduction of a seniority system that would give those with the longest service priority when holidays, promotions and base transfers are allocated.
Last week's strike led to the cancellation of flights, mainly between Ireland and the United Kingdom, with European flights spared so as to minimise disruption for holidaymakers during the height of the summer tourist season.
Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said it was likely that Ryanair would again focus on saving its European flights from disruption, as it would lose more money if they were affected.