Ryanair pilots are squaring up to the company in a fresh effort to force the carrier to engage with a new representative group.
The Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) – which says it represents over half the airline's roughly 2,500 pilots – has just formed its first council. The move marks a significant intensification of efforts to force Ryanair to engage with the group.
The move comes just as Ryanair – where there is no union presentation among employees – prepares to begin hiring 3,000 new staff, including pilots and cabin crew, over the next five years to fuel a major expansion as it starts to take delivery of 175 new jets.
Five members have been appointed to the RPG council. They include serving Ryanair captain John Goss. He has been heavily involved in the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) and previous efforts by pilots to negotiate with Ryanair.
Mr Goss won a legal battle against Ryanair in 2005 after he initiated action to challenge disciplinary procedures taken against him after the airline claimed he made intimidating calls to Ryanair pilots in Stansted.
Mr Goss insisted he was being targeted by Ryanair for having tried to include the IALPA in negotiations between the airline and pilots.
The new council members also include Captain Carl Kuwitzky, a pilot with US-based Southwest Airlines, the carrier on which Ryanair was originally based.
A source close to the group said one of the primary aims of RPG is to ensure that contracts for Ryanair pilots are standardised.
More than 70pc of Ryanair pilots aren't directly employed by the firm, but work as contractors for a third-party company.
Ryanair's labour structures have been subject to increasing scrutiny across Europe, but the company insists that it adheres to all relevant employment law.
It has also dismissed the RPG's new interim council.
"The fact that the five-person 'Ryanair' council consists of four pilots from other airlines – Aer Lingus, KLM, Air France and Southwest – shows that this is a 'non-Ryanair pilot group' and shows that the European Cockpit Association don't have enough Ryanair pilots to even form a committee," said spokesman Robin Kiely.
"There is no RPG and any pilots who are unhappy at Ryanair are free to leave, as we have over 3,000 pilots waiting to join," he added.