Ryanair flights in and out of UK airports took off as normal this morning despite strikes by pilots, the airline has said.
Thousands of passengers were braced for disruption ahead of a 48-hour walkout over pay and conditions.
On Wednesday, Ryanair lost a last-ditch legal challenge to stop the strikes.
But the no-frills carrier has said it will aim to minimise disruption for passengers and will be able to run its “full schedule of flights”.
However, it warned that it could not rule out some delays.
Ryanair said it would inform passengers of any changes to their flights by email and text message. “If you have not received any SMS or email from us, your flight is scheduled to operate,” it said. Customers can also check its website, it said.
The airline said it had drafted in pilots from elsewhere in Europe to fill in during strike action.
Another 48-hour walkout is planned by the union in early September to coincide with the end of the summer holidays.
The pilots are striking over pay and benefits. They have asked Ryanair to change its policies on issues such as pensions, maternity benefits and insurance for pilots who lose their licence.
They are also calling on the airline to “harmonise pay across the UK in a fair, transparent, and consistent structure”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Brian Strutton, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), said the union, which was only recognised by Ryanair 18 months ago, had tried to negotiate a “comprehensive package” with the airline.
“Unfortunately Ryanair wouldn’t engage with that, they haven’t made us any offer at all,” he said.
Asked whether pilots had made demands for captains’ salaries to be doubled to more than £375,000 a year, as Ryanair had claimed, Mr Strutton said: “It’s drivel.”
“I wouldn’t advise anybody to pay too much attention to Ryanair’s exaggerations,” he said, adding that the union had not asked for any specific percentage increases to pay.
On Wednesday, Ryanair won a legal challenge to stop its Ireland-based pilots from striking, but more of its pilots fly from the UK, where a court cleared pilots to stage Thursday’s strike.
In early August, Balpa announced two 48-hour walkouts, one from 22-23 August and another from 2-4 September.
But Ryanair turned to the courts in London and Dublin in an attempt to block the industrial action, prompting Balpa to accuse the airline of “bully boy” tactics.
“The point actually is to disrupt Ryanair, rather than disrupt passengers,” Mr Strutton said.
“If they have an operational headache and it costs them a lot of money – but can run their schedule today – then actually that’s fine.”
What can I claim if my flight has been affected by the strikes?
If your flight has been cancelled, you should contact your airline to organise what to do next.
An airline should offer a refund or a replacement flight (possibly on another carrier) to your destination.. Generally, if you are part way through a journey, and do not want a replacement flight, you are entitled to a flight back to the airport you originally departed from.
Those are the minimum requirements for ticket holders.
In some cases, passengers may be entitled to additional cash compensation for the inconvenience – but only if you receive notice that your flight is affected less than 14 days before departure.
So, if your flight has been significantly delayed or cancelled because airline staff are striking, then this is considered within the airline’s control, according to the Civil Aviation Authority – and therefore passengers can claim this extra compensation under EU rules.