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French press review 11 August 2018

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Ryanair shares tumble as the low-cost airline is caught in a crippling cockpit and flying staff strike over pay and working conditions.


The social turbulence at the Irish airline Ryanair is the hottest issue in the papers this Saturday. This one day after hundreds of pilots across Europe staged their first simultaneous strike for better pay and conditions.

Le Parisien reports that in the standoff that has caused travel mayhem for more than 55,000 passengers this summer, an offer by Ryanair for ticket refunds without any compensation fell flat.

According to the paper, the low-cost carrier has been taken to court by a Belgian consumer group demanding the application of EU legislation, which set compensation payouts of between 250 and 600 euros for passengers of cancelled flights.

On top of the demands for wage increases, several regional papers point to another key complaint raised by the airline's workers: labour practices.

Ryanair staff based in countries other than Ireland are employed under Irish legislation, which allows the company to pay starting salaries of around 40,000 euros per year. That's half of what Lufthansa's most experienced pilots get.

Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace denounces Ryanair's ultra-liberal system which it claims has allowed the company to operate outside the limits of European social laws. This despite transporting 130 million passengers and piling up 1.4 billion euros in profits in 2016 alone.

For La Nouvelle République du Centre-Ouest, by persisting with its low cost strategy and not paying its staff reasonable salaries, the Irish company has become a concentrate of the most hated social practices possible in the EU. It has been prosecuted in France for non-respect of labour laws.

According to the newspaper, that didn't stop Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary from continuing with provocations and threats to relocate the company's flights to other countries in order to maintain Ryanair staff under pressure.

L'Est Républicain says the ongoing strikes have exposed the limits of the business strategy that has worked so well for the company up until now.

A sign of the times, Friday’s turmoil sent Ryanair shares tumbling 4.21 percent to 12.98 euros at the close in Dublin.

In the hectic travel season, Le Courrier Picard reserved its most sarcastic comments for the state-owned rail operator SNCF, which has been hit by technical problems resulting in massive train cancellations and delays.

The paper satirises about how illusionists at the company have spent more time this summer communicating with passengers instead of transporting them to their holiday destinations.

Le Figaro for its part comments about the new 80 kph speed limit enforced on 400,000 kilometres of national roads across France since 1 July, and the road mortality rates which it claims are being watched over "like milk in the boiler".

Le Journal de la Haute Marne shares the ordeal faced by drivers who, under the new traffic restrictions, are now forced to either spend long hours behind truckers driving at 70 kph or step on the gas and drive at up to 90 and even 100 kph just to overtake them.

Under both conditions, it argues, there can't be any guarantees of a reduction of road deaths, which reached 3,500 in 2017, against an all-time low of 3,268 recorded in 2013.