Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary urged a former pilot - who quit amidst claims he was sent to ‘Siberia’ on reduced pay following the closure of the airline's Marseille hub - to withdraw his resignation and report for work in Lithuania on Valentine's Day.
Dressed in his trademark blue jeans, jacket and checked shirt, the outspoken Ryanair boss appeared as a witness in Morgan Fischer's unfair dismissals claim against the airline at the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin yesterday.
Capt Fischer, (45), an American who has since returned to the US to work as a pilot for American Airlines in Miami, claims he was constructively dismissed by the airline when he was transferred to the airline's base in Kaunas, Lithuania at a loss of €16,000 salary after Ryanair closed down its hub in Marseille in the south of France in October 2010 where he was based.
But Mr O'Leary, who had personally met with Capt Fischer previously to resolve a prior grievance, exchanged correspondence with the pilot after he tendered his resignation for what he claimed was the airline's "unreasonableness" in forcing him to relocate to Lithuania 2,000 kilometres away on a reduced salary without prior consultation.
He told the tribunal that he wanted to resolve the dispute with the pilot and tried to persuade him to accept the transfer to Kaunas and could apply for a transfer from there later.
"As a way to facilitate him, I told him to go to Kaunas for two to three months and you'll likely be out of there by April," he told the tribunal.
Consequently, he said he wrote to Capt Fischer in December when he was back in America "where I strongly recommend you withdraw your resignation and transfer to Kaunas and apply for a transfer (from there) and make yourself available to be rostered for Monday, February 14."
However, he conceded that he could not guarantee that Capt Fischer would be transferred from Lithuania, although he told the tribunal that airline crew and pilots usually wind up getting transferred to bases of their choice among the airline's 57 European hubs.
"I thought it was a very generous and considerate offer," he told the tribunal before it retired to consider the case.