Ryanair has signed a union recognition agreement with Italian Airline Pilots Association (ANPAC).

The airline opted to recognise pilots’ unions in December in what it admitted was a “significant” change in its policy, after it was threatened with strikes across Europe.

But it insisted unions set up committees for issues specific to Ryanair in return.

The threat of industrial action, which was initially brushed aside, came after the carrier cancelled around 2,000 flights after “messing up” its rostering in a row over pilots’ entitlement to annual leave. The airline later cancelled a further 18,000 winter flights to ensure pilots could take their leave.

ANPAC, which has been in negotiations with Ryanair since December, will become the sole representative body for Ryanair employed pilots in Italy, which currently accounts for approximately 20% of the airline’s pilot body and nearly 80 of the airline’s fleet of more than 400 aircraft.

It has elected a ANPAC Ryanair Company Council to conclude and early Collective Labour Agreement for Ryanair’s directly-employed pilots in Italy.

Ryanair signed a deal to recognise UK union BALPA in January and said it hopes to sign similar recognitions in other European countries in the coming months.

Ryanair’s chief people officer Eddie Wilson said: “We are pleased to announce this Italian recognition agreement with ANPAC on behalf of our directly employed pilots in Italy. The fact that we have delivered pay rises of up to 20% for most of our pilots, and union recognition agreements in our two largest markets (UK and Italy) which together represent over 45% of our pilot body, shows how constructive Ryanair is about developing relationships with those unions who wish to work with us and how much progress we have made in a short period of time.

“We are making good progress with unions in other major EU countries and we hope to sign more recognition deals with pilots and cabin crew unions over the coming weeks and months.”

Ryanair has also opted to recognise Irish cabin crew union Impact.