A RYANAIR pilot, who was earning over €100,000-a-year before tax, says he was "unfairly and unreasonably" dismissed after the airline told him he was to be redeployed to a remote eastern European base, 1,800km away.
Patrick Burns, who began work with Ryanair in 1997, claims the decision to move him from his base in Marseille to Kaunas in Lithuania was punishment after he did not fill out a transfer request form when the airline announced the French base was to close.
The airline says it was forced to shut its Marseille base in January of 2011 after the French authorities there began questioning pilots on matters relating to tax.
Giving evidence at a sitting of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, deputy director of flight operations with Ryanair Peter Bellew said pilots in Marseille were given forms to indicate their preferred redeployment location.
He said a clause in all Ryanair pilots' contracts allowed for redeployment to different bases and contracts were offered on the terms of individual bases. Mr Bellew said the decision to send Mr Burns, who was also employed as a training captain, to Kaunas was borne out of a necessity to fill a vacancy and "that he wasn't being singled out".
Representing the plaintiff, IMPACT assistant general secretary Michael Landers said the forms were essentially an effort by the airline to redeploy pilots in cases where bases close or are downsized and avoid costly redundancies.
He said Mr Burns was being punished for "not towing the line" after he did not fill out a transfer request form.
Mr Landers said his client declined the contract as it would see him lose around €7,500 every year and also said that the airline was aware he had recently purchased a new house in Marseille.
Mr Burns lodged a grievance with the airline because he felt he was being unfairly treated.
The airline began disciplinary proceedings against the pilot after he failed to turn up for work in Kaunas on a number of dates in March 2011.
The case continues on Monday.